Stepping Back In Time At Old County Hall

Charleston Post & Courier – April 5, 1998
By Mike Mooneyham

If you build it, they will come.

Henry Marcus did many years ago, and for several decades they came in droves.

County Hall was the place to be on Friday nights, and Marcus was the man who promoted weekly wrestling shows that put this town on the map as a mat mecca.

The biggest names in the business appeared here during the 48 years that Marcus promoted – from the original Gorgeous George to Lou Thesz to Ric Flair.

On Saturday, May 30, fans will have an opportunity to step back in time to a golden age of grappling as Lowcountry Championship Wrestling presents “The Night The Legends Return: A Tribute to Henry Marcus.” Several matches are planned for the program, but they will be simply a backdrop for an awards ceremony that will honor Marcus and some of the top stars to have ever appeared in the Carolinas.

The biggest star-studded reunion ever held in this area will bring together a “Who’s Who” of talent that has graced the pro wrestling ring over the past 40 years. Fans will have a special opportunity to meet the legends on Saturday afternoon, May 30, from 1-4 p.m. at the King Street Palace (formerly County Hall). Later that evening a wrestling program will be held at the same building where an awards ceremony will take fans and participants back in time to a golden era of professional wrestling.

The list of honorees include one of the biggest arrays of talent ever assembled in the local ring.

Among that group: Johnny Valentine, Wahoo McDaniel, Ole Anderson, Tully Blanchard, George and Sandy Scott, Rip Hawk, Swede Hanson, the original Mr. Wrestling (Tim Woods), Nelson Royal, Ronnie Garvin, Abe Jacobs, Hiro Matsuda, Grizzly Smith, Jose Lothario, Burrhead Jones, George “Two Ton” Harris, The Fabulous Moolah, Penny Banner, and referees Tommy Young and Ron West. A number of surprise guests also will be on hand. Marcus, 86, who retired in 1989 and now resides in Myrtle Beach, will be guest of honor for the festivities.

County Hall was a Charleston landmark for many years. It served as host to dances, graduations, sporting events and a variety of other activities. Over the years its stage was graced by the likes of big band leader Tommy Dorsey, singing cowboy Gene Autry and even “The King – Elvis Presley.

It also was the home of professional wrestling in this area.

When County Hall was closed as an auditorium in 1985, it marked the end of an era for wrestling fans here in the Lowcountry. Friday nights at the hall meant wrestling, and the arena was usually packed to capacity. Even though conditions weren’t always the most comfortable, to wrestling followers it was a home away from home for a couple of hours a week.

On hot summer nights the spectators usually would sweat as much as the wrestlers in the ring, with the only forms of cooling being a few fans and an occasional breeze from outside the building.

The building fell into disrepair in later years, a victim of leaky roofs, bad floors and balconies destroyed by termites. Considered a firetrap, County Hall closed as an auditorium in 1985. The landmark was brought back to life when a motion picture production company bought it in 1988 and embarked on a $1.5 million renovation project.

The ’90s version of County Hall – the King Street Palace – is equipped with all the luxuries of a modern arena, including a heating and air conditioning system. The walls were stripped to their original brick, the balconies were rebuilt.

Tickets for the reunion and awards show may be purchased at any SCAT outlet or by calling 577-4500. Tickets are $15 ringside, $10 general admission for the Saturday night show, and $10 for the afternoon event. A VIP package for both programs is $20.

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