On November 19, 1934, William H. Karrh opened the Dixie Theater in the 100 Block of North Green Street in downtown Swainsboro, Georgia. The theater was considered one of the finest of its kind, featuring major cinematic releases and Vaudeville attractions. Mr. Karrh went on to build several other theaters in nearby towns; however, the original Dixie remained his grandest of enterprise.
As in-home television rose in popularity, movie houses saw a decline in business. Eventually, in the late 1960s, the Dixie Theater ran its last film and closed its doors.
Soon after, the building was repurposed as part of the Delores & Woody’s department store, and later became home to Rainbow Antique Mall. In 2013, the grandsons of William H. Karrh donated the vacant theater to the City of Swainsboro for renovation as the Barbara & Tobe Karrh Community Arts Center, named after their parents, the son and daughter-in-law of William Karrh.
Since then, the City of Swainsboro has been hard at work in securing the structure, developing renovation plans, and building community support around the project. Current plans for the Barbara & Tobe Karrh Community Arts Center include:
- A fully renovated Historic Dixie Theater, featuring state-of-the-art theater projection and audio technology and performance stage. The completed theater is expected to show feature films on a regular basis, along with small theatrical productions and musical performances.
- An expanded lobby area that can also serve as meeting space for community events
- A replication of the circa 1951 Dixie Theater marquee
- A home for the Emanuel Arts Council, including offices, educational space, and art workspace
- An art gallery
- Three loft apartments
- A gathering plaza outside of the theater entrance
Check back to this page to follow along with the progress of the Barbara & Tobe Karrh Community Arts Center.
For more information, or to become involved with the renovation project, contact:
Director of Downtown Development