"We're in [what used to be] Rockey's Dreamland Theater," Charlie Morrison says. The building which was destined to become the Ashville Museum was originally built as a silent-movie house; it operated from 1920 to 1929. "Back then," Morrison says, as he shows some of the original equipment, "they only had one projector, so they had to have intermission to change reels."
Some of that original equipment--now almost 100 years old--still exists, such as this slide projector which was manufactured in 1914. Like many artifacts of days gone by, this projector and its glass slides were particularly fortuitous finds. "When we started remodeling the upstairs [projection room]," says Morrison, "we'd take some flooring out, and there were all these old slides, and reels of old films." Indeed, in the days of silent films, many reels were simply discarded after being shown; it was commonly felt that films, once seen, had lost all value.
The silent-movie theater was here from 1920 to 1929. "Then the sound came, and it killed the little theaters," Morrison tells us. Though the owners tried to adapt to the new "talkies," the acoustics of the building were poorly suited to the new film medium. "They tried it, and it didn't work. It wasn't large enough. The sound wasn't right." The movie house closed its doors to movie-goers forever in 1929.
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