I took my mom on a day trip about 70 minutes away, down US 52 North to Mount Airy. The town is famous for a couple of “stars” – Donna Fargo (the song, FUNNY FACE) and more notably, Andy Griffith’s hometown. It is said that Mayberry is modeled after Griffith’s memories of Mount Airy.
While there are major events held at the small town of about 10,000 during the year, we wanted to see what the town offered without being in a huge crowd – like during their annual Mayberry Days celebration.
After some research on the internet, I found that I could park for free in a municipal lot two blocks from Main Street. However, after parking there and walking the two blocks, I found there were spaces ON Main Street. (sigh) My mistake, but I wouldn’t have gotten this photo of part of mural on one of the buildings.
Since we were a bit late starting out, we wanted to eat. My mom – who doesn’t eat pork or red meat – can make it hard to find restaurants sometimes. So when walking to Main Street, a gentleman suggested we go to Speedy Diner – famous for pork chops. Obviously we didn’t go there, but instead decided to go to Walker’s Soda Fountain.
Upon entering, we were the only people in the place – other than the owner, but several people came in while we were there. The soda fountain is original from 1948 and the homemade chicken salad is excellent! There is also this mural on the back wall (someone is making a killing on murals in Mount Airy!):
After waddling out of the soda shoppe, I spotted Floyd’s Barber shop. After all, this is Mayberry!
Next, I wanted to see the historic movie theater I read about online. In Greensboro, there were no less than five downtown theaters “back in the day” and now only one remains – The Carolina, which opened in 1927. So when I read about The Earle - a 1938 movie house/theater located on Main Street, I knew I had to see if I could get inside. You can read the complete history using the link above, but with the new multi-plexes popping up, theaters like The Earle were becoming obsolete. Thankfully, the Surry County Arts Council were deeded the building and began renovations. Please believe me when I say my photos do not do this charming theater justice!
Once inside, you see a neat little concession stand, tended by a very nice young man (I’m sorry I neglected to get his name).
The Earle still shows movies on Saturday and Sunday and has a live country music radio show twice weekly since 1948! Inside the auditorium, there are three sections for seating, a main stage and screen.
There is also a balcony section.
Even the restroon area was neat. The retro doors led to a very simple, but clean facility. For all I know, these are the original fixtures!
Once out on the street again, we strolled back towards our parking lot, passing by a building labeled Bank of Mount Airy. Built in 1923 using granite from Surry County, it is now closed to banking and is an Art Center.
After a short stop in an Antique consignment market (where mom bought a table), we headed back home – very happy that we finally visited “Mayberry” – Mount Airy, NC!