I worked at Riverside Cinemas 4 in Macon, GA from 1992 until its closure in October 1997. My understanding is that RC4 began life on Christmas day in 1970 as a twin with just two large auditoriums, one on either side of the lobby. At some point the larger of the two auditoriums was split in two to bring the screen count to three. Finally, sometime in the 1980s, a smaller fourth auditorium was added. When I first started, the theatre was operated by United Artists, but it ended under the ownership of Regal Cinemas. The building is now a furniture store.
A neat little fact: Louise Ketterbaugh, the employee who sold the first ticket at Riverside Cinemas in 1970, also sold the last ticket in 1997. I wasn't around in 1970, but I did get to experience the finale.
The lobby was unique in that a live tree was growing up through the floor, and the upper wall facing the front of the lobby featured humps of different sizes jutting out at varying depths. The seats in three of the auditoriums were rockers and were very comfortable. An undesirable feature was that the men’s restroom was located upstairs—not so handicap accessible!
The layout of the projection booth upstairs was somewhat maze-like in contrast with the long hallways common in newer theatres. Much of the supporting equipment was put together using scrap materials. For example, a micro switch—with a straw attached and wired to a light bulb—was used to alert the projectionist if the film feeding into projectors 3 or 4 became tight due to a problem with the platter system at the end of an adjacent hallway.
Because of the confined spaces, film paths spanned long distances—even down a hallway for projector #3—and across some foot traffic areas to reach the projectors. The projectionist had to be careful where he/she stepped to avoid tripping over moving film. The projectors were Italian-made Cinemeccanica Victoria 8 models (from the 1960s, I believe). I've heard that at least some of them are now in a museum somewhere.
I have 33 photos in the gallery below (it scrolls horizontally). I took the first set of black and white photos in 1997, just a month or so before RC4 closed. The next set of color photos from RC4 was taken sometime in 1995 with a point and shoot film camera. The quality wasn’t great, but I have attempted to enhance them somewhat. The last five photos were taken in 1998 in the projection booth at the Macon Mall 8, which is where I worked for a year following the closure of RC4. I have included these mainly to show the difference between the two projection booths. Click any photo to see a larger version.
If you once worked at RC4, or if you remember watching movies there, feel free to share your memories in the comments section at the bottom of the page!
I shot this video of the RC4 projection booth in 1995. It gives a good feel for the quirkiness that made RC4 so interesting and unique.