Gene Theatre, 1951, McRae

historic gene theatre mcrae ga photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2009

Recently recognized as a “Place in Peril” by the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, the Gene Theatre is one of Georgia’s most unique movie houses. Architect Bernard Webb, Jr., designed the theatre to honor Telfair native and four-time Georgia governor Eugene Talmadge. The facade originally featured a diagonal tartan pattern behind the script lettering. Closed as a theatre in the 1970s and subsequently used as an auditorium, the historic interior features were sold in the 1990s and the building has gone into serious decline in the interim.

Jimmie Batchelor shared this snapshot made by her grandfather, Thomas Mason Pullen, on the opening night gala at the Gene in 1951. The movie was Two Weeks in Love starring Jane Powell. Jimmie notes:
I had many dates at that theater, spending my teenage summers with my grandmother, James Margaret Hughes Pullen. She adds: The Gene Theatre was such an important ‘hang out’ for us, especially on Sunday evenings.

 

Janice Green Scruggs recalls: The Gene Theatre was “the” place for everything going on in McRae back in the late ’50 and early ’60′s. All the kids/teenagers had to make their weekend showing there no matter what was showing. You didn’t go for the movie, you went to be seen and socialize, to meet boys/girls and have something to do on Saturday…it was great times, wonderful memories.

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11 Comments

Filed under --TELFAIR COUNTY GA--, McRae GA

11 responses to “Gene Theatre, 1951, McRae

  1. Lydia Fussell

    I loved reading these comments. I just become a member of the Pioneer Historical Society recently, and I would love to interview anyone who has posted something on here about the Gene theater! Please send me a way to contact you!

    • Patricia Lord Williams

      I saw all of the original Elvis movies there when I was growing up in the 50’s and 60’s.

  2. Richard Steven Young

    I worked there in the 70s with my brother Marty.He ran the film projectors and I changed the Marqi.We saw all of the best movies and it really was the best of times for us.

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  4. The Gene Theatre was “the” place for everything going on in McRae back in the late ’50 and early ’60’s. All the kids/teenagers had to make their weekend showing there no matter what was showing. You didn’t go for the movie, you went to be seen and socialize, to meet boys/girls and have something to do on Saturday and to make out in the dark with “your guy” without going to far.

    I remember all the beach movies with Annette and Frankie and Elvis’ 1st movie being shown there and going with my mother. I remember a hypnotist coming once and doing a live show.

    To me it was great times, wonderful memories.

  5. Jack Dominey

    The Gene was a segregated theater by custom if not formal enforcement all the way up until the late 1970s. White folks came in the front after buying their ticket in the large window on the right of the picture. The large opening a bit further to the right was the black entrance. It had a separate window to the box office. From there patrons went upstairs to the balcony.

    The billboards on the left held posters for the current and next attractions. The three small windows on the right held placards for other upcoming movies.

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  7. Michaela Dennis Hadlow

    The Gene Theater is McRae was named after Governor Eugene Talmadge (“Gene”), father of Governor Herman Talmadge. The Talmadge home is in McRae, overrun with a shrub-covered fence. However, the “historic marker” is out near the road, U.S. Highway 341.

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