Lyon’s State Theater remodeling

Published 3:17 pm Saturday, December 27, 2014

by Clyde Parker

December 26, 1964

A $100,000 remodeling is now underway at Lyon’s State Theater in Franklin. Earlier in the month, Hal J. Lyon, owner of the theater, built in 1937 with unique art-deco design, said he hoped to have the theater reopened by the end of the year.

“The theater will be completely remodeled from floor-to-ceiling and from wall-to-wall,” Lyon said.

The construction contract was awarded two months ago to Red Dennis, theater remodeling specialist from Charlotte, NC, who has remodeled 40 theaters in the Stuart and Everett chain.

Lyon, who is in his 35th year with the theater business in Franklin, told The Tidewater News, “we are making this tremendous investment in our Franklin property because I have a great deal of faith in the future of our city.”

“With the way Franklin has grown in the past few years, and considering the anticipated growth in the immediate future, I feel now is the time to do something,” he said. “We want the Lyon’s State Theater to grow with the community it serves.”

Renovation of the theater will include the walls and stage to be redone in persimmon spiral silk damask, and the stage will have an Austrian valance that reaches to the ceiling.

New seats, costing $50.00 each, will replace the old seats on the main floor. Lyon said seats will be spaced 42 inches apart to allow easy passage. The present seats are spaced 30 inches apart. The seating capacity will be reduced from 500 down to 300.

Sea blue carpeting will be installed throughout the theater. Included in the plans are new restrooms, a new lobby and foyer, and a new concession stand.

“Everything will be new or completely redone,” Lyon said.

The front of the theater will be solid glass with the cashier office inside the lobby. The present foyer is planned to be twice the present size and will be lined with walnut paneling. An entrance stairway from the main floor to a new loge section is planned.

The color scheme is following closely the same scheme used in a recently built theater in New York, Lyon said.

If the remodeling is completed by the end of the year, as hoped, Lyon said the reopening feature will be “Send Me No Flowers” with Rock Hudson and Doris Day.

Lyon also owns the now-closed Franklin Theater at the northeastern corner of Main Street and Fourth Avenue in Franklin, the Carrsville Drive-in Theater and theaters in Boykins and Waverly.


William M. Camp Jr. was re-elected president of the Virginia – North Carolina Pony Trotting Association at a meeting held last week at the Cypress Cove Country Club. Others elected were James Jenkins, vice president; G. W. Nichols, secretary and reporter; James Pope, treasurer; and Mrs. H. C. Clark, racing secretary.

Racing schedules for 1965 were setup at the meeting. Sixteen races will be held between April 4 and Oct. 31. Races will be held in Ivor, Capron, Conway, NC and Gatesville, NC.

Mrs. H.C. Clark, representing the National Pony Trotting Association, last month, presented a trophy to William M. Camp Sr. of Franklin at the Annual Meeting of the Association held in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The trophy recognizes Camp for having the fastest two-year old registered Welsh pony in the Nation.

Camp’s pony, Merry Mills Champ, clocked the half-mile in 1:51 minutes.


Chester W. Burgess, III, was presented the Boy Scout rank of Eagle at a recent ceremony held at Hunterdale United Church of Christ. Burgess, son of Mr. and Mrs. Chester Burgess Jr. of Hunterdale, has been active in scouting for the past nine years. He has served as a Patrol Leader of the Wolf Patrol and later as a Senior Patrol Leader.

On the staff at Camp Waters for the past two years, he has taught forestry and reptile study. He was awarded the God and Country Medal in 1961 and was inducted into the Order of the Arrow, Chanco Lodge 483, and is now serving as activities chairman.

He was chosen “Best Camper” at the 1964 Nature Camp at Vesuvius, Virginia.

He is president of Explorer Post Number One in Franklin.

The Eagle Scout presentation was made by John L. Brenner, Scoutmaster of Troop 27. The ceremony also included Chester’s mother and father and Reverend Harold Tribble, pastor of the Hunterdale Church.

At the Church, Chester is a member and president of the Junior-Senior Class, a member of its Senior High Pilgrim Fellowship and a member of the Junior Board of Deacons.

CLYDE PARKER is a retired human resources manager for the former Franklin Equipment Co. and a member of the Southampton County Historical Society. His email address is