The Movie Theaters

movie theater

The Forest Theater on South White Street, circa 1942, was a popular destination for college students and town residents, particularly after it became the first local business to install air-conditioning.

In the first part of the 20th century, the town had two movie theaters, and a ticket cost 12-cents.

The Collegiate and the Forest both closed after the college left town.


  1. I lived in Wake Forest,NC from 1956-1967 with my parents, Luther and Louise Copeland, and my four siblings. We lived at 330 S. Main Street and enjoyed many years going to the Forest Theater. While the Collegiate Theater closed after WF College moved, the Forest stayed open until it was demolished by fire and not re-built. I believe this fire occurred in 1965. Please confirm the date the Forest burned. .

    1. Hi Joy, thank you for sharing your memories! You’re correct in your recollection of the Forest Theater. It burned in 1966. This is from the WF Fire Department website:

      1966, Forest Theater on White Street burns. Blaze is discovered about 10:15 a.m. by clerk in hardware store directly across the street from the theater. Theater is gutted and three smaller shops are slightly damaged. Firefighters from Rolesville, New Hope, Youngsville, Bay Leaf, Stony Hill, and Raleigh assist, bringing blaze under control by 11:20 a.m. One fireman is injured, losing tip end of finger when caught in some equipment during the firefighting. Two others are treated for smoke inhalation on scene. (July 1, 1966)

  2. My dad, who is now 89 years young, recounts a story of running away from home with a bunch of ragamuffin kids from Brooklyn NY.
    They were going on an adventure of pool hustling their way around the country.
    After taking a bus to Alexandria VA and then hitching a ride they found themselves in the town of Wake Forest NC. With no money and underdressed for the cold weather and hungry, they tried every door to find a warm place to sleep under the stairwells of the buildings.
    Along came a friendly policeman named Tom Jones, who probably got a tip on these vagrants around town, he brought the scraggly bunch to the local coffee shop, fed them and afterwards to the theater, to warmed up and keep them relaxed and occupied.
    The woman ticket taker was now in charge of making sure the kids didn’t leave the theater.
    Dad can’t recall the movie since they could think of nothing else except of how to plan their escape…and when they tried, officer Jones was waiting right outside,
    ready to take them away to a warm bed for the night at the local jail.

    That’s his story, it goes on but I just wanted to mention the theater.


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