The Heart of Historic Downtown Monroe


The Dowd Center Theatre is located in the 100 block of South Main Street in the heart of Historic Downtown Monroe, North Carolina. It is one of a chain of Center Theatres designed by Earle G. Stillwell, architect of Hendersonville, NC, and built in the Art Moderne style. Originally named the Center Theatre, it opened its doors to the public on February 9, 1940, with a showing of “Congo Maisie” with Ann Southern. The Grand Opening was held on February 12, 1940, and featured the motion picture “Remember The Night,” starring Barbara Stanwyck and Fred McMurray.

After years of continuous use as a movie theatre, the Center closed its doors in December of 1991. Following several changes in ownership and partial interior demolitions, the theatre was purchased in 2013 by the City of Monroe. In 2015 the City purchased an adjacent property to facilitate the development of a multi-use cultural arts venue. Construction and renovation of the existing facility began in October of 2018 and was completed in the spring of 2020.

Following its opening in 1940, the Center Theatre emerged as the premier source of movie entertainment in the Union County area. Now that the rehabilitation is complete, the Dowd Center Theatre will provide the region with a professionally-staffed, multi-purpose cultural, entertainment, and community events center in an historic and unique venue without peer. Its 560-seat theatre and gallery space will serve not only as a focal point for classic and arthouse cinema but also local, regional, and national artists and performers as well as a facility for meetings, receptions, and conventions for businesses, civic organizations, churches, schools, and individuals.


The Dowd Center Theatre is to explore the boundaries of community, culture, and education by providing unique and diverse entertainment opportunities and experiences for the citizens of Monroe, Union County, and the region.