A History of Film Exhibition in Watauga County

Gary R. Boye

Although remote and difficult to travel through for much of the early 20th century, Watauga County has a surprisingly varied and rich history of film exhibition. The first real theater in the county was the Pastime in Boone, constructed in 1923 with the first films exhibited in early 1924. Other buildings had been used for film exhibition from at least 1905, especially the Watauga County Courthouse. There was also a "theater" of sorts in Shulls Mills from 1918-1920 that was little more than an outbuilding. But the Pastime Theatre and its successor, the Appalachian Theatre, were the true commercial beginnings of cinematic exhibition in the county. The Pastime was gutted and converted into a business building in the 1960s. The other theaters are entirely gone with one shining exception: the Appalachian Theatre is currently being renovated . . . .

The resort town of Blowing Rock--straddling the Caldwell County line but with the majority of its business district in Watauga--had three film theaters. Most locals recall the Yonahlossee Theatre, but there were also two earlier venues: the little-known Wonderland Theatre in Mayview and the Carolina Theatre. The Wonderland burned down in 1933 and was converted into a private lot. The Carolina was gutted and rebuilt as a commercial building. The remains of the Yonahlossee are more apparent than the Carolina, although the building has been divided into two separate commercial properties.

I have detailed information on all of these theaters which I will be adding in the near future:

Boone Theaters

  • Appalachian Theatre (1938-2007)
  • Chalet Theatre (1972-2004)
  • The Flick (1971-1996)
  • Pastime Theatre (1924-1958)
  • Sky-Vu Drive-In (1950-c1967)
  • Watauga County Courthouse (1905-1949- )

Blowing Rock Theaters

Shulls Mills Theater

Temporary Theaters in Watauga County

  • temporary theaters (1907- )

Caldwell County Film Exhibition

Dr. Gary R. Boye

Music Librarian and Professor

Appalachian State University