Built in the 1950s, the Gene Theater was named after four-time Georgia governor and Telfair county native Eugene Talmadge. Known as “The Gene,” the theater’s unique façade, designed by contemporary architect Bernard Webb, Jr., featured “Gene” in flowing script on a monumental plaid background. The vibrant theater showed movies through the 1970s, and then was used for pageants, craft shows and musical productions.
The Gene Theater has been closed since 2005. Interior elements were sold at auction in the 1990s, and a leaky roof has led to deterioration of the structure. The city lacks a historic preservation ordinance that could offer protection for the site, and the current property owners have limited resources available to restore this historic theater.