|Old Apex Theater - source unknown|
The now missing white building on Chatham Street (beside the railroad track) was the original and only local Apex movie theater from the years before 1952. The theater burned one Sunday morning in 1952 while many of its long time patrons attended church a short distance away. It was the nearest and most popular movie theater for local patrons and was a favorite among local places to be.
The theater is fondly remembered as the local destination on any given Saturday to visit with friends and see the latest black and white movies of the era - Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and Lash LaRue cowboy adventures, Superman and Buck Rogers adventures and other action movies. The theater also featured weekly serial adventures based on Superman, Batman, Flash Gordon and other characters of the time. There were always cartoons featuring Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Felix the Cat, Popeye the Sailor and other characters from the early days of Walt Disney Studio productions and other producers.
Admission to a full day of entertainment was 10 cents. If you had a little extra change, theater snacks were available - popcorn, soft drinks, various candies and the ever popular Cracker Jacks.
Segregation was prevalent during this era and a balcony was provided for black customers and downstairs seating for white customers. Restrooms were also segregated and signs were ever present on bathroom doors indicating "white only" or "colored only". There were occasional rounds of throwing popcorn and empty boxes to and from the balcony and occasionally animosity would lead to a fist fight erupting in the adjacent parking lot after the movie.
The movie sound would often be drowned out by the sound of passing coal powered locomotives pulling hundreds of freight cars past the theater. The point thought to be the highest level of the railroad track was near the theater so trains were always laboring to get over the rise as they passed by.
Following the great theater fire of 1952, patrons were left to find other sources for movies and entertainment and many ventured to Raleigh, Cary and Durham to other theaters. During the rapid growth phase of Apex in 2000 and beyond, a large multi-theater facility was constructed in the local Beaver Creek Shopping Center bringing family movie entertainment back to the local area.