President Theatre adjacent spaces - 2012
President Theatre - 1935
The PRESIDENT THEATRE, Inc.'s mission is to support and promote the economic growth in Meriwether County by preserving the President Theatre and engaging the community in cultural, educational, and artistic opportunities.
The President Theatre, a 1935 historic building is of art deco/ art modern design. The preserved theatre will be reminiscent of the same design while embracing and incorporating technology that will sustain the theatre well into the future.
The President, a legacy in Meriwether County, was one of over 100 theatres owned by Roy E. Martin Sr. of Columbus, Georgia. Designed by architects McKendree Tucker and Albert Howell of the Georgia architectural firm Tucker & Howell. Opened during President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s term in Washington, Mr. Martin named the theatre to honor President Roosevelt’s presence in Warm Springs, a neighboring city within the same county.
Although the New Georgia Encyclopedia article on architects Tucker & Howell refers to this house as the Manchester Theatre, the builder must have decided to name it the President before it opened. In any case, an article about the President Theatre appears in the Modern Theatre section of the November 16, 1935 issue of the trade publication, Boxoffice Magazine, with a small photograph of the exterior. It says President on the vertical sign.
The facade of the building featured four bays, defining three shop fronts and the theater entrance in an end bay. Above the theater entrance was a masonry and plaster tower painted in stripes and bands of black and white, and the theater’s vertical sign was attached to it. The tower was surmounted by a large ornamental lantern. The facade, box office and vestibule were covered in black and white Carrera glass.
The lobby featured a color scheme of red, black and silver, and had a terrazzo floor. Walls and ceilings of the auditorium (which were at right angles to the entrance, and had a small balcony) were covered in custom-made, fluted panels of Celotex (a synthetic board made of sugar cane residue.) The article doesn’t mention a color scheme in the auditorium.
The article names Oscar S. Oldknow, of Atlanta, as the owner of the building. Oldknow had become vice president of Fox Theatres in 1930, but records do not indicate how long he remained associated with that company. By 1936, he had a house in Bel Air, California, which had been designed by theater architect S. Charles Lee.
The President Theatre is presently being restored to its original design with modern conveniences. Seasonal play productions are scheduled throughout the year to help fund it's complete restoration and revitalization efforts. Performances are held through the year to raise funds to support these efforts.