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Spring Valley Theaters, Two Notch Road: 1980s   20 comments

Posted at 6:10 pm in historic,stores

The Spring Valley Theaters were on Two Notch Road near I-20, where the Lowes now is. In order to build the place, they first tore down The Dreamland Motel, one of the stalwart US-1 motels, and where both my sister and I had swimming lessons once upon a time. I'm not sure why the place got the "Spring Valley" tag. Certainly it was closer to Spring Valley than, say, The Statehouse, was but "closer" isn't "close".

I know we saw a number of films at the theater, but one in particular stands out in my mind. It was 1977, and I was 16 years old. I finally had my unrestricted license, and I could drive by myself and at night. My pure unbridled freedom was marred only by my total lack of money, and my total lack of a car.

Earlier in the day, I had been listening to the radio. I'm not sure which station it was. I was still listening to WIS a good bit, but I had discovered rock & roll in 1976, so it could have been WNOK. Whichever it was, they were running a call-in contest. I used to try these quite often, and won several. (I won a ride on the first run of the Thunder Road roller coaster at Carowinds, a chance to meet Foreigner backstage, tickets to see The Beach Boys and a couple of free meals).

This particular contest was for tickets to a sneak-preview of a new science fiction movie, one I had never heard of. I had enjoyed written science fiction for years, and had seen my share of SF movies, both first run and on TV. I guess the "biggies" were 2001, which was visualy impressive, but ponderous and confusing, Silent Running, which was visually impressive but based on a silly concept and The Planet of the Apes movies which were less effect laden, but more fun. As it happened, I was caller number five, and I talked my parents into letting me drive myself to the show. So, I was out tooling around Two Notch in our 1972 Comet coupe and having a good time, actually getting to use the headlights as the sun went down.

I got over to the Spring Valley Theaters, showed my ID which was checked against a namelist (I think -- I'm a bit fuzzy on that), and went on in. I didn't have any money to buy popcorn or a drink, so I just went in and sat down. I also didn't have any great expectations and from what I could tell, the other winners didn't either, but I was quite prepared to have a good time, and to not be in any hurry driving home.

Of course the movie was Star Wars. I had never seen anything like it -- nobody there had. It's hard to remember what movies were like in the 70s, but "fun" was optional and present in a fairly small subset. Take a movie like The Great Waldo Pepper which should have been fun what with the chances for stunts and dogfights, but decided to go another way.

This film had the effects of 2001 -- heck it had better effects than 2001! -- and decided to be fun! I had never heard an audience applaud at the end of a film before, but they did, and I did too. Leaving the theater, I knew this film was going to be huge, and in fact after it opened, it was weeks before you could get a ticket. Not only was Star Wars a bright spot in the decade of stagflation, but it totally changed the way we see movies by paving the way for "the summer blockbuster". Now, that has had good effects and bad ones, but I sure wouldn't want to go back to "70s" films!

I forget exactly when the place was torn down. I believe it was the 80s, but it could have been the 90s, I suppose. At the time, Columbia was over-theatered, so it wasn't a painful loss, but I'll never forget that night!

Written by ted on August 21st, 2008

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20 Responses to 'Spring Valley Theaters, Two Notch Road: 1980s'

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  1. Cool - I saw Star Wars at this theater in 1977 too. I was in my second year at USC. All the way home I was flipping my high beams making laser gun noises.

    FirstDennis

    22 Aug 08 at 9:06 am

  2. The Vikings was one of the first films they showed there.

    Tom

    24 Aug 08 at 11:13 am

  3. I think the last movie I saw there was Ghostbusters II in the summer of 89, I think it closed around that time period. I really miss the Pizza Inn that was in front of it.

    MR Bill

    25 Aug 08 at 11:00 am

  4. May be they called it Spring Valley because they wanted something more hip than "Dentsville"? :)

    JP

    J.P.

    26 Aug 08 at 1:25 pm

  5. Well, I like "Dentsville", but it does sound like a Sunset Strip "Kookie" putdown, doesn't it?

    "He wanted beat feet to a flick, but that's like so Dentsville, Daddy-o!"

    ted

    26 Aug 08 at 1:30 pm

  6. I appologize. I feel like I found your site, and now I'm commenting on every single page.
    I certainly saw Star Wars there, but I was 10. It had 3 theaters. WOW. It was huge. I saw Close Encounters of the Third Kind at Jefferson Square on Main st.. That theater was largely forgotton, but stayed open surprising for a long time. In fact, I remember the night of hurricane Hugo so well because I had gone to see The Adventures of Baron Munchousen (forgive my spelling) there that night with my best friend, and when we came out the traffic lights where blowing side ways, and the main part of the storm hadn't even hit yet. I'm a huge Terry Gilliam fan.

    Hal

    4 Sep 08 at 9:37 pm

  7. No apologies -- I love comments!

    And there is a Jefferson Square post too.

    ted

    4 Sep 08 at 10:38 pm

  8. This was is a really mixed bag of memories for me. I certainly saw plenty of movies here (Jaws 3-D anyone?) and have some fond memories of it. However, this was the hardest theater in town for any 13-15 year old to catch a rated R flick at. The manager in the mid 80s was this bald guy with a mustache who was a prick of biblical perportions. I did finagle myself into Friday the 13th part 6 at age 14 because it was the only place in town showing it. This, despite his efforts to the contrary. VIC-TOR-Y!!!!!!!

    Chris

    30 Jan 09 at 7:18 am

  9. I saw Jaws 3-D there and Friday the 13th Part 3 in 3-D. I was 10 and my brother who was 16 said he was my guardian and we got in.

    Brian

    10 Aug 10 at 5:03 am

  10. I saw ET here when I was 3-4. I remember my sister would take me to the movies and then get me a Frosty at Wendy's after.

    Natalie

    26 Sep 10 at 11:51 pm

  11. I saw Star Wars here in 1977. I was five. I know I saw the Abyss here too and that was in 1989. I think they tore it down when they built the Movies at Polo Rd.

    Tim

    12 Jan 11 at 10:03 pm

  12. Star Wars seems to be a common thread among the commenters. I grew up in St. Andrews and we had to drive to Spring Valley to see Star Wars in 1977. We went to the old Dutch Square theaters to see Empire Strikes Back and Bush River Mall to see Return of the Jedi. Now all three theaters (along with most of the others) have closed.

    ED

    9 Apr 11 at 11:13 am

  13. I recall the Bond films always came to Spring Valley theaters. Saw Star Wars, the first Star Trek, and of course, the sci fi classic Flash Gordon in 1980 here.

    Shawn

    28 Jul 11 at 11:13 am

  14. Did this close when the new theater was built at Spring Valley Commons??

    Because if that is the case, I can tell you (based on loopnet data) that Spring Valley Commons was built in 1988...

    Andrew

    4 Jan 12 at 5:33 pm

  15. Based on some of the dates they've posted, I've grown pretty leery of Loopnet building dates.

    tonkatoy

    5 Jan 12 at 7:41 am

  16. Sometimes they make sense, sometimes they dont...I think you have to take it on a case-by-case basis...

    For Example: They said that Kmart #4141 (1500 Charleston Highway) was built in 1998 and something tells me that said building is older than that.

    They also said that Kmart #4043 (4400 Ft. Jackson Blvd.) was built in 1963 while Kmart #4319 (7325 Two Notch Road) was built in 1970 which make sense to me.

    They also say that the Kroger at 3403 Forest Drive was built in 1986 and is app 46K square feet...

    Andrew

    5 Jan 12 at 6:56 pm

  17. Chas HWY store was built in 1966 or so.

    tonkatoy

    9 Jan 12 at 7:38 am

  18. I believe I was about 10 years old the first time I saw a movie at Spring Valley Theaters. My dad took my little brother and me to see Superman. It was a great experience. I really miss this movie theater.

    Melanie

    18 Aug 12 at 12:08 pm

  19. My grandparents managed the Dreamland Motel. I have a picture of me sitting on the diving board in my Easter dress. 1972 or 73 maybe.

    Leigh

    9 May 13 at 7:38 pm

  20. @Leigh: Be sure to look here, then.

    ted

    9 May 13 at 10:44 pm

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