MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – As the Palace Theatre comes down this week, a 20-year employee is looking back on the memories through a display of memorabilia from the theater’s glory days he created in his own house.
“It was just an exciting place to work and be a part of,” said Mike Mabrey, who started working for the Palace Theatre before it opened in August 1995. “They had already advertised who was coming. And I said, ‘I can’t afford to buy tickets to those shows. I’ve got to get a job there.’ I was fortunate to get hired.”
Mabrey was a front-of-the-house supervisor and hired people to be ushers, parking attendants and other various positions. He retired in 2015 after calling i it quits a couple of other times and returning.
“Five years, it just did wonderful,” Mabrey said. “We had named stars from Kenny Rogers to the now infamous Bill Cosby, and Radio City Christmas Show.”
Mabrey soon began saving playbills, posters, trinkets and anything else he could find. Now, he has a mini museum inside of his house in Myrtle Beach.
“A lot of this doesn’t mean anything to anybody but me and my family,” Mabrey said. “They’ll probably be happy when I donate it somewhere else.”
His collection has continued to grow up through this week, when he was able to get a few last items from the inside, such as a chair, an armrest and a piece of the dome.
“The demolition company, they’re just paid to tear everything down and clear the land,” he said. “We were able to go grab a few things off the wall here and there. It’s sad.”
The Chapin Company decided to demolish the Palace Theatre after Hurricane Matthew left a large hole in the siding, exposing the inside of the building to the elements.
Mabrey said he is sad, but he understands it was a business decision.
“One of these days, it’ll all be history,” he said. “It’s history now, but it’ll really be.”
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