"The Jazz Singer" was the first movie with sound shown at the Ansonia.
In 1925, Lemuel Lanier Drake created the Ansonia Amusement Company and built the Ansonia Theatre, a vaudeville theatre.
Costumes for vaudeville shows were often supplied by local residents.
Popular entertainers, such as Ollie Hamilton, often stayed at the home of Mrs. Mary Les Huntley.
Moviegoers first saw silent movies at the Ansonia before enjoying the “talkies”.
The Ansonia Theatre was one of the first theatres to show newsreels.
During World War II, military men on manuevers, attended Mass on Sunday mornings at the Ansonia because there was no Catholic Church in Wadesboro at the time.
In 1946, Drake leased the theatre to Stewart and Everett, a movie theatre chain.
The marquee was not original to the building, but added later during one of the many remodeling projects by Stewart and Everett.
In 1971 the management of the Ansonia was once again in the control of the Drake family.Brookie Drake Craft, Mr. Drake’s granddaughter, became the manager.
Jack and Judy Poulnott, AnsonCounty residents, became the Ansonia’s owner in the early 90’s and donated the building to the Anson County Arts Council in 1995.
Originally the Ansonia could seat 500 people. Because of stage expansion, handicap requirements, and codes, the restored Ansonia will accommodate approximately 273.
The Ansonia Theatre is listed in the National Historic Register of America.
Lash LaRue appeared at the Ansonia in the 1940's and 1950's.
Fred Kirby also made several appearances.
The Ansonia Theatre Renovation
The dream for the Ansonia consisted of restoring the basic structure of the building very closely to that of its peak years. The exterior facade has been returned to its natural brick color with stucco arches, white trim, windows on the top floor, restored marquee and upcoming attractions display cases on each side of a double-door entranceway.
Inside, the original sturdy metal-based cushioned seats have been refurbished, providing seating in the main auditorium and balcony for up to 273 persons. The elevated stage has been extended outward toward the audience to increase performance area, and stairs and handicapped lift permit access to the stage by all persons. The dressing rooms, originally under the stage, have been moved to the rear of the stage.
Professional lighting and sound equipment has been installed. Next door to the Ansonia, the spacious Arts Council office and gallery building serves as an extended lobby for theater events.
Anson County Arts Council Promoting the Arts in Anson County, NC