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.