1607 Main Street
Like most structures within the Main Street 1600 block, 1607 Main replaced buildings burned in 1865. In 1936, the building was modified to house The State, an Art Deco style theater that became the fifth motion picture house on Main Street’s west side at that time. (A sixth theater operated on the east side.) At the time of its completion, The State boasted seating for 750 people, “luxurious lounge rooms for both men and women . . . [and] an electrically lighted marque ornamented with neon.” Known later as The Fox, the theater barred black patrons until 1963, following Civil Rights desegregation efforts. To increase attendance, owners bisected the screen and added a separate balcony, effectively creating The Fox “Twin.” However, The Fox ultimately could not compete with suburban theaters and closed its doors in October 1987. Bought by the Nickelodeon Theatre in 2007, this historic structure became a vital part of Main Street’s renaissance by reintroducing motion pictures to the commercial district following its rehabilitation in 2012.
Theaters on Main Street originally featured stage performances. Silent films or “movies” largely replaced live performances. With the addition of sound to film, “talkies,” became the movies of choice and thousands of people flocked to Columbia’s Main Street theaters, which included (over the course of 75 years) the Rex, the Ritz, Carolina, the Palmetto, the Rialto, the Grand, the Tivoli and the Jefferson. Choices for African Americans patrons were more limited, with black theatergoers largely attending black-friendly movie theaters such as the Capitol on Washington Street and the Carver on Harden Street.