Library Notes: Downtown Kannapolis Photowalk
Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 18, 2023
By Paul Birkhead
Rowan Public Library
Rowan Public Library’s Spring Photowalk is coming up soon. If you haven’t been on a photowalk, please consider joining us as we stroll around downtown Kannapolis and take photos of interesting sights we come across. Just like at Rowan Public Library, all are welcome and there is sure to be something of interest for everyone.
Our group will be meeting in front of the Gem Theatre, a magnificent building and one of the oldest single-screen theaters in continuous operation today. The art deco facade is a thing of beauty and is sure to be the focal point of many interesting photos during our visit. In years past, local youths attended Saturday matinees at theaters such as the Gem to see the latest adventures of their favorite heroes including Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, and John Wayne. Rowan Public Library has many DVDs in its collection that feature these movie legends. Matinee idol Audie Murphy has a fascinating back story. Read all about it in “Price of Valor: The Life of Audie Murphy, America’s Most Decorated Hero of World War II,” by David A. Smith.
Another stop on our walk is the Dale Earnhardt Tribute Plaza. The centerpiece of the plaza is a 9-foot bronze statue of the legendary NASCAR driver, who was born in Kannapolis in 1951. The library has many books about stock car racing and its drivers. To learn more about the Earnhardt family, check out “Earnhardt Nation: The Full-Throttle Saga of NASCAR’s First Family,” by Jay Busbee. For even more inside information, Earnhardt’s son Dale Earnhardt Jr. wrote a book called “Racing to the Finish: My Story.’
Spring has arrived and that means baseball is right around the corner. A recent addition to Kannapolis’ downtown is Atrium Health Ballpark which opened in 2021. It is home to the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers, a White Sox-affiliated member of the Carolina League. The multi-million-dollar stadium is fun to visit and, on non-game days, is open as a public space for all to enjoy. There is a playground and splash pad for children, and all ages can follow the Atrium Health walking trail around the concourse. A past member of the Carolina League, the Durham Bulls, were the subject of a romantic sports comedy film in the late 1980s. To learn all about the making of what some consider the greatest sports movie of all time, check out “The Church of Baseball: The Making of Bull Durham,” by Ron Shelton.
From a historic movie theatre to a sparkling new baseball stadium; as well as first-class restaurants and shopping, downtown Kannapolis has a lot going for it. On Saturday, March 25, at 10 a.m., join me as Rowan Public Library hosts a photowalk among all the sights downtown. Meet in front of the Gem Theatre at 111 W. 1st St. in Kannapolis. This free program lasts an hour and includes walking around the downtown area together, taking photos and learning basic photography principles. Registration is requested. To register, go to bit.ly/Photowalk-Kann .
Paul Birkhead is a librarian at the Rowan Public Library.