Terrace Theater: Losing a rathole

Terrace Theater: Losing a rathole

Recently, Whole Foods announced that they have ditched its option at the still-unbuilt Albemarle Place and will instead move into a new 50,000-square-foot store on the site of the old Terrace Theater. Dormant since the late ’90s, the theater and its brown façade had remained as it always had since it first opened. Unappealing and sequestered to the far left of Kmart on Hydraulic Road, it was almost an afterthought.

Few precious memories are lost with the demolition of the Terrace Theater

Going to a movie there was always a little unsettling, kind of like going to an old folks home. Like the aging Seminole that still exists behind it, the Terrace had a gigantic screen that sat at the bottom of a long decline. The last movie I saw there was Species, starring Natasha Henstridge as a naked alien who liked to kill. In theory it was a good idea for a movie; in practice, not so good. I remember walking down the aisle to locate my old, decrepit seat. The place smelled of many kinds of mold, and as I took a seat I had to pause for a second. No telling what sort of fungi were waiting for me there.

That was in 1995, and shortly thereafter the Terrace was changed to a second run theater, like the Greenbrier had before it. For just a few dollars, you could see movies that had already been passed on, much like the theater itself.

In its later years, the Terrace and its parking lot were almost more of a social scene than a place to see a movie. The car wash a hundred feet away beckoned to tricked-out cars and trucks that rolled around as teenagers milled about, shouting and flirting. It was also the scene of a violent crime in 1988, when police were tipped off that a robbery would take place. As the would-be burglar entered with a sawed-off shotgun, he was challenged to drop his weapon. Instead, he raised it and was blasted by police. Surely that grizzly show trumped whatever was on the screen.

Almost as soon as Whole Foods announced its decision, the construction crews moved in and the demolition began. Now, only half of the crumbling building remains. "It was a rathole," says a manager at Seminole. I can’t disagree. Seems like no one will miss it, including me.

C-VILLE welcomes news tips from readers. Send them to news@c-ville.com.