Our Summer Send Off

We’re nearing the end of another traditional summer and this week,we’ll take a look at some of the leisure time pursuits you could have experienced in decades gone by, right here in Sanford. Our first photo is of Temple Park. Sanford’s ballpark, at McIver and Seventh Streets, was one of several projects undertaken in Sanford by the Works Projects Administration (WPA) in the 1930s. Temple Park was named for Will Temple, a local ballplayer who enjoyed success in the New York Giants’ organization. The Sanford Spinners played here in 1941-42 and again after the war, from 1946-50.

Have you seen this gentleman lately? It’s quite likely if your travels take you through downtown Sanford on a regular basis. He’s Howard Aumann and he’s memorialized in one of the many murals around town. Howard was a star pitcher for the Spinners and lived in Sanford for many years after his baseball career ended. The stadium grandstand was torn down in the 1960s, but the field is still in use to this day.

Here’s a look at the Park Avenue Pool in 1941. The pool was another WPA project, built in 1935. For roughly 4 decades, this community pool was the home of summers filled with fun. The pool was demolished in the late 1970s, but a visit to this destination can still be enjoyable today. It’s the present-day home of the Kiwanis Children’s Park.

Today of course, the Temple Theatre is the home of exceptional theatrical productions and live entertainment. But this community landmark also entertained thousands of people over several decades in its original role as a popular movie theater. Here’s a look at the Temple marquee in the 1940s, when Sanford residents had a chance to enjoy a Laurel & Hardy comedy.

For a time, our community had multiple downtown movie-going options for its patrons. Jonesboro was home to the Center Theater for several years, where movies and special events were presented. For years, the Temple’s “direct” competition was practically right across the street. The SanLee, at 212 Carthage Street, was founded in 1920 as the L-Ma Theater and was operated for a long time by local businessperson R.P. Rosser. Here we see the SanLee in all its glory in 1933. Sadly, the theater caught fire on September 19, 1954. When Hurricane Hazel raced through our region a month later, it sealed SanLee’s fate. This space is now a parking lot, right next to the First Citizens Bank location.

We’ll wrap up on a brighter note and travel down NC Highway 87, for a stop at the Lee Drive-In Theater. As more households became car owners, and eventually two-car owners, drive-in theaters became a very popular pastime. Particularly in the 1950s and 60s. The Lee opened on March 2, 1951 and was a popular source of entertainment for many years.

Editorial content, pictures and research background, compliments of Jimmy Haire and Images of America: Sanford and Lee County, by Jimmy Haire & W.W. Seymour, Jr, available here for purchase.

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