Historic entertainment venue set to re-open in Kannapolis

Published 12:05 am Thursday, July 7, 2022

KANNAPOLIS — Entertainment options are expanding around Kannapolis this fall thanks to the restoration of a historic venue.

The team behind the renovation of the Swanee Theater has announced that they are preparing for a soft opening this September before officially hosting their grand opening on Nov. 1.

The theater has been through its fair share of iterations since it was first completed in 1940. Initially serving as a movie theater until 1971, the venue then transitioned to other community uses before renovations in the 1990s resulted in it serving as a community visitor and training center.

In the 2010s, however, the building had been vacated and plans for its future were still unclear.

Enter Ken Lingafelt, part of a development team along with Kent Gregory, who has taken ownership of the Swanee Theater through their group, West Avenue Entertainment, LLC.

Lingafelt and manager Macy Burleyson have put in the time and effort to bring the old theater back to prominence, and with construction almost complete on the facility’s interior, new details about future plans have emerged.

One of the highlights of the venue will be the introduction of an iHeart Radio recording station on the facility’s ground floor.

Lingafelt has also ensured that the historic building’s interior beauty can be put to use in other ways. Rooms have been crafted for bride and groom wedding parties to gather and the main auditorium is now equipped for weddings.

On the main floor, a bar is in the works that will be where the concession and ticket stands once stood.

These are all interesting elements of the Swanee, but the main focus for Lingafelt all along has been the main music hall where the movie theater once stood.

Inside, walls have been preserved from the theater that trap acoustics from bands playing down below. Rose-colored curtains will further contain noise, brand new hanging lights have been attached to the ceiling, and a specially-designed sound booth has been erected, all of which complement an impressive main stage which stands front and center.

Lingafelt said that he envisions musical acts of all genres coming to the Swanee, ranging from gospel to southern rock with plenty of options in between.

Located in the heart of the West Avenue District that Lingafelt and his team have played such a significant role in developing, the Swanee is a perfect addition to the current entertainment options in the community.

Pointing out how on the weekends a visitor to the area could catch a baseball game in the afternoon, see a show in the early evening, and finish their night with dinner or drinks at the nearby establishments across the street, he emphasized the need for such a venue at this stage in the area’s growth.

Of course, while growth is always important for developers to consider, Lingafelt is also originally from Kannapolis and he is more than happy to remember the roots of the venue and to play a part in its restoration and maintenance.

The installation of a marquee in front of the venue resembling the same one which once sat outside the Swanee in the mid-20th century is soon to be underway. In addition to this, Lingafelt is considering airing some of the old previews, ads, and movies that were once popular at the theater decades ago.