Sanford, North Carolina
Storytellers captivated the ancient Greeks through stage plays. The Globe, with its special effects and interesting tales, launched new words into language and entranced a queen. With the invention of moving pictures, stories had the power to influence society through futuristic concepts like Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis,” capture landscapes of history like “City Lights,” and to create cultural movements like a certain cartoon mouse. The ability of Hollywood to embrace and elevate life drew audiences in throngs to crowded theater lobbies in times of despair and ease. The scenes may have changed over the years, but the physical act of going to a theater remains much the same. It endures as a tradition, one that still holds the same magic and excitement that our predecessors undoubtedly felt as well.
Dating back to March 2nd, 1925, the Temple Theatre witnessed its share of cinema history. From traveling shows to Buster Keaton films, it became a fixture in the once small town of Sanford. As decades passed, and the American cultural landscape changed, the Temple underwent several transformations. It traded traveling troupes for exclusively showing films. This model continued until the 1960s, when the Temple Theater shut its doors.
It wasn’t until the 1980s that the Temple Theater saw its revival thanks to J.R. Ingram, Jr. As the son of the original architect – J.R. Ingram, Sr. – the younger Ingram hoisted the theater out of the throes of dust and time. He donated it to the Lee County Recreation Foundation in 1981, and its restoration commenced. Today, the Temple Theater regularly hosts local productions and still bears the same architectural grandeur it had in 1925.
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