Clio Logo
Charlotte CityWalks - NoDa
Item 12 of 12
This is a contributing entry for Charlotte CityWalks - NoDa and only appears as part of that tour.Learn More.
The Neighborhood Theater and Smelly Cat Coffeehouse are both representative of reuse. Smelly Cat has been caffeinating NoDa for more than 20 years. Across 36th Street is the beloved Neighborhood Theater. The theater is a music and entertainment venue featuring local, regional, and national acts as well as local events such as the annual Home Grown Tomato festival!

  • Plant, Building, Window, Tree
  • Sky, Daytime, Font, Signage
  • Building, Door, Window, Neighbourhood
  • Sky, Tire, Building, Wheel

The Astor Theater opened in the 1940s as a traditional movie house, a delightful diversion for mill workers and their families. A soda shop offered treats next door. Years later, the theatre shifted to B movies, and by the time the textile mills closed in the ’60s and ’70s, the Astor “Art” Theatre shifted exclusively to porn films. A side shop now sold sex toys and a not-so-secret brothel operated upstairs.

By the 1980s, the theater had darkened, and an evangelist who legally changed his name to John 3:16 leased it. He ran a church and homeless shelter in the space. The marquee once reading “Parking in Rear” now promised “Soap, Soup, and Hope.” Incidentally, John 3:16 swiftly left for Florida and was later busted for embezzlement. 

In 1985, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints moved in to run a Christian music venue. Two years later another church briefly took over. Finally, in the 1990s, the space began its transition into the music venue it is today. It has hosted local and international performers - from Charlotte bands giving benefit concerts for charity to national acts such as George Clinton and Parliament, the Indigo Girls, and the Black Crowes. Another Clinton - Hillary Clinton - spoke here during a presidential campaign stop in 2016. 

Will Puckett, a well-known muralist whose work is also featured at the Jack Beagles spot on this tour, painted the mural above the marquee in 2015. There have been several renovations inside as well to better accommodate both performers and audiences. While the venue is quite different from its origins 75 years ago, it remains a treasured gathering spot in NoDa.

Turn 180 degrees and you will face the Smelly Cat Coffee House.

This neighborhood coffee house originated as a gas station serving North Charlotte once cars became common in the mill village. In 1999, the small brick building became Smelly Cat. The name probably sounds familiar to fans of the 1990s sitcom Friends as a song sung by the character Phoebe. As in the TV show, locals enjoy fueling up and hanging out in this space, surrounded by art and acoustic entertainment.

This concludes the NoDa City Walks tour. City Walks Charlotte would love to hear from you about your experience participating in this year's tours. To take a brief survey, click the survey link at the bottom of this page.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Noda Back in the Day Committee

Photo Credit: David Spano

Photo Credit: David Spano

Photo Credit: David Spano