Magnificent New Play House Opens
Forest City’s new $150,000 theatre will open Thursday evening, Jan 3rd. The formal opening of the Romina will be an event in Rutherford county history, not only because the Romina is the most beautiful and best equipped theatre in any town this size in the state, but because this magnificent new playhouse belongs to Rutherford county in a very real and vital sense. It is an investment of one of the county’s foremost businessmen, the beautiful building was designed by a Rutherford county architect, built by a Rutherford county contractor and the force of employees are all homefolks.
The Romina Theatre is a beautifully designed, and artistic structure of cream pressed brick. It represents a large investment and a careful inspection of the big building and its equipment shows that the money has been wisely spent. The exterior of the Romina is striking in its graceful simplicity and the arrangement of the interior is ideal. The handsome entrance, floored with cream tile, which matches the brick of which the building is made, and decorated to match the interior, is one of the most artistic theatre lobbies anywhere in North Carolina and adds a great deal to the beauty of the street. The lobby is flanked on either side with a commodious room: the one on the left is to be used as a bus station and the one on the right will be used as a ladies waiting room. There are three large, attractive and ideally arranged office rooms over the lobby, bus station and waiting room. The theatre office will be in one of these second floor rooms and Dr. R. R. Howe, one of the leading dentists in Forest City, will occupy the other two offices.
The theatre proper, a large bowl shaped auditorium and balcony, will seat 750 people. It has an orchestra pit that will accommodate a fourteen piece orchestra and organ grills for the installation of a big organ. The commodious, well lighted stage is equipped with every convenience for actors and will take care of vaudeville, musical comedy, or any similar form of entertainment. The “talkies” can be brought to the Romina anytime, for it is designed and arranged to take care of this new type of drama.
The seating arrangement, stage placing and shape of the auditorium are features which strike the observer. They are perfectly designed for the comfort and convenience of the patrons. There is no corner of the room from which a perfect view of the stage can not be obtained. The seats in the main auditorium are both handsome and comfortable. They are upholstered in leather and the placing in the sloping floor is such that an unobstructed view of the stage is obtained anywhere in the auditorium. The mechanical arrangements for the comfort of the patrons are perfect. he artistic three-color lighting scheme, with a complete dimmer control, the automatic oil burning furnace and typhoon system of ventilation insures that the Romina will always be comfortable. The Romina Theatre is a creation of the active brain of Mr. Walter Haynes, Rutherford county capitalist, and is strikingly indicative of his splendid vision and belief in the future of this section. Even the theatre’s pretty musical name is Mr. Haynes’ own idea. It is a clever and effective combination of the name of his two daughters; Rosa May and Amanda Elmina. Mr. Haynes has a great many clearly defined and excellent plans in connection with the operation of the Romina. It is his purpose to make the theatre an intimate part of the life of Forest City. He believes that the town and community are ready for the highest class type of entertainment, and that a good theatre, well managed, will pay here. He has staked a good deal upon this belief and he has planned every detail of the theatre’s management with a desire to cooperate with every agency in the city. Mr. Haynes is by no means alone in his pride in his beautiful theatre, every citizen of Forest City takes a personal interest in it and feels that it is a great contribution to the beauty and charm for which our City is famous.
A young Rutherford county architect, Mr. R. E. Carpenter, of Cliffside, designed The Romina. This building is clearly indicative of the artistic ability and practical knowledge of this rising young man. The profession of architect is one of America’s most interesting professions and the one for which our nation has attained the widest recognition. American architecture is regarded the world over as our greatest national artistic achievement. Mr. Carpenter shows great promise in his chosen line and the Romina is greatly to his credit. He has designed in it a rare combination of beauty and utility, without sacrificing each to the other in the slightest instance.
Mr. G. K. Moore, of Cliffside, built the Romina. This fact, in itself, is enough to guarantee the quality of the workmanship. Mr. Moore, who has built some of the best buildings in the county, has never done a better piece of work than he has on this building. All the decorators and visitors comment on the excellent quality of the work and Mr. Moore is very justly proud of it. Mr. Haynes takes great pride in the quality of the work.
“I knew that Mr. Moore would do it right,” he said. He built most of the buildings at Cliffside and we can depend on his work.”
The beautiful Haynes Memorial, the school building, some of the mills and most of the important buildings at Cliffside were built by Mr. Moore. He is a former Forest City citizen and takes great pride in the beauty of the town, consequently he is especially proud of the new theatre and of the addition it makes to the appearance of the city square.
The theatre has been decorated by Mr. L. F. Ingram, of Biltmore, and is entirely in keeping with the rest of the building. The flame proof curtain and stage settings were put in by Parker and Gardner, of Charlotte. They are extremely beautiful and of the very best quality. The decorator is indeed an artist and he has put in stage setting that is unequaled in very many much larger city theatres. Mr. Haynes has consistently followed his policy of having The Romina the most beautiful theatre in this section in every detail, and the decorations are the best of their kind.
It is this policy of Mr. Haynes, that has made The Romina such a wonderful theatre. A trip of inspection fails to show any detail two (sic) small to receive the most careful thought, and to have been given the attention necessary to fit and equip the theatre perfectly. The plan, workmanship, mechanics, decorations and furnishings are in harmony, are beautiful and have been chosen with thought and care.
Mr. Haynes regards himself as especially fortunate in his force at The Romina. The manager, Mr. C. D. Hughes, has had a great deal of successful experience in the operation of a theatre. He has run the theatre at Cliffside and will continue to operate it in connection with The Romina. Mr. Hughes is very optimistic about the future of The Romina and has some very interesting plans for the future. He is now in touch with five of the leading moving-picture corporations in the United States, and he plans for the theatre to offer five changes weekly with special features on Monday and Tuesday.
“We will not confine ourselves to pictures exclusively,” Mr. Hughes said, “We will give a variety of entertainment. We are equipped to take care of any kind of theatrical production, and we plan to put on vaudeville, Musical comedy and any other form of entertainment that is available.”
Mr. Hughes will be assisted in the management of The Romina by Mr. Milton H. Mauney, of Forest City. The ushers and cashier will be Forest City people, so the theatre will be run by “Home Talent”. The solitary exception to this popular policy of Mr. Haynes’ is the operator, Mr. Edgar Shrew, of North Wilkesboro; Mr. Shrew is well known to Forest City people, and is a very skillful cinema operator and Mr. Haynes feels that he is fortunate in securing his services.
One of the most striking instances of Mr. Haynes’ foresight, vision, and big planning for The Romina is shown in his selection of a musician to direct the musical activities of The Romina. He has secured the services of Mr. Wesley Norris, whose ability and training place him in the very front ranks of concert performers. It is safe to say, that there are very few large city theatres which will be able to offer their patrons music of the quality that Mr. Norris will give The Romina patrons. With the magnificent equipment of the theatre, and Mr. Norris’ musical ability, every performance will be a musical treat.
Forest City is attaining much recognition as a musical center. Mr. Haynes took the musical activities and appreciation of Forest City people into consideration when he secured Mr. Norris’ services and he feels that he is indeed fortunate in getting a musical director who is already well known and popular here. Mrs. Nell Padgett Norris, Forest City’s own singer, will assist her husband, and the program on which she will appear are (sic) awaited with great anticipation.
The opening program will be a rare musical event. Mr. Haynes has secured the Good Fellow Music Makers, of Charlotte, the best known musical organization in the Carolinas, to give the musical program. There will be several local speakers and the picture to be shown is the popular feature, “Ramona.”
The Good Fellows Music Makers will bring with them thirty performers, orchestra, soloists and chorus. It represents the best talent procurable in this section and its programs are prepared to have an appeal to folks of all musical tastes. The Good Fellows are at home in all classes of music. They sing every type of music, from a light ballad to a grand opera selection. The orchestra is composed of ten professional musicians and is one of the most popular orchestras in the entire South.
The Good Fellows Music Makers is a civic musical organization made up of some of the foremost people of Charlotte who are deeply interested in music and they have worked so hard and faithfully at their hobby, that the organization has been taken entirely out of the amateur class, and it shows the freedom, abandon, and degree of showmanship of professionals. Some of the singers are: Earl Rasor, tenor; John O’Daniel, bass; C. M. Hassell, tenor; Emily Cullum, contralto; Grace Kohn Johnson, soprano; Gertrude Gowner, soprano; Joan Gottheimer, soprano; Annie Mae Pritchett Baker, contralto; Mary Sims Sloan, soprano; Wm. Clegg Monroe, baritone; Rachel Rozzelle, contralto; W. H. Neal, baritone; Ralph Urey, bass; Joseph Overmeyer, tenor; Bennie Withers, contralto; David Owens, Eugene Craft, accompanist and Frank Crayton, director.
The orchestra is made up of: David Lajoie, violin; Elizabeth Trappe, violin; Remo Malinarolli, cello; Eugene Hayes, cornet; Johnson H. Brown, trombone; E. E. Houston, bass; E. D. Shaw, clarinet, and Howard Beatty, drums.
The Good Fellows will be accompanied by Secretary Keuster of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, who is extremely enthusiastic about the Romina, and in fact about Forest City as a whole.
The Forest City Kiwanis Club will entertain Mr. Haynes, Mr. Hughes, and their guests at dinner in their banquet Hall at Blanton’s Café at six o’clock on Thursday evening. This will be a notable event in the welcome given the new theatre and its management by Forest City people.
The program for the evening will consist of the Good Fellow program, the picture “Ramona”, and some opening exercises that will feature some excellent speakers. Mr. Keuster on behalf of Mr. Haynes will present the theatre to the people of Forest City and Rutherford County. The acceptance address for the city will be made by Mayor Charles Z. Flack, and for the county by Supt. Clyde Erwin.
Forest City is indeed fortunate to have such a beautiful theatre and the quality of the productions offered makes The Romina a particularly valuable addition to the town. There have been few additions to the town that will have the significance of the new theatre. Good amusement is an important feature in modern life and the cultural value of good motion pictures and music is one of the accepted facts of present day civilization. Mr. Haynes and Mr. Hughes recognize these facts and in their plans have taken them very carefully into consideration. They plan to have the best pictures and to co-ordinate with these pictures the best music obtainable. These aims are, in their way, as great a thing for the town as the beautiful building.
This item was printed in The Forest City Courier on January 3, 1929.