Stillwell built a successful architectural design agency in the early
1900s. However, like the businessmen he designed
homes and businesses for Stillwell struggled to stay in business following the
stock market crash and throughout the Great Depression.
|These two similar shots show the Clemson and Co-Ed theaters 50 years apart.
Top photo–1941. Bottom photo–1991
had designed Hendersonville’s Rex Theater in 1924 and he did the redesign work
when it burned in 1932. Through this
work he met Robert Wilby and Mike Kincey who managed most of Paramount’s
southeastern movie theaters. This
relationship would lead to work for additional theaters in North Carolina,
South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. Most of his theater designs featured Art Deco
facades, a few were Streamline Moderne, but all were uniquely Stillwell’s.
designs for Brevard’s Co-Ed Theater are not included in the Henderson County
Library collection an article in the December 8, 1938 Transylvania Times
identifies Stillwell as the architect.
The theater design featured 500 seats, plus a semi-balcony for groups or
private parties. In addition there was a
“cry room” where mothers could take disruptive children and continue to watch
the movie. The Co-Ed featured an Art
Deco sunburst front.
drawings by Henry Gaines, one of Stillwell’s partners with Six Associates, in
the Pack Library collection in Asheville appear to be for renovations to
Brevard’s Clemson Theater. A June 29,
1939 Transylvania Times article covers the opening of the new Co-Ed and
improvements to the Clemson.
A few years
later, after new owners took over the Brevard theaters, Stillwell was hired to
redesign the Clemson and Co-Ed into one large theater. A picture of his drawing for the building’s
exterior was found in the August 22, 1946 Transylvania Times. This work was never undertaken though.
able to keep and expand his business during and after the Depression by designing
over 50 theaters in the 1930s and 1940s.
He also got work through Roosevelt’s New Deal projects for government
buildings and schools. Next week’s Picturing the Past will take a final look
at Stillwell’s work through the local schools he designed.
and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina
Room, Transylvania County Library. Visit
the NC Room during regular library hours (Monday-Friday) to learn more about
our history and see additional photographs.
For more information, comments or suggestions contact Marcy at [email protected] or 828-884-1820.