HUMANS OF CHEROKEE COUNTY: Jon Irvin
Editor’s note: This is one of an occasional series of articles that draws attention to ordinary Cherokee County residents and their extraordinary lives.
Andrews – The Andrews Cinema and Henn Theatre in Murphy are two historic places in Cherokee County that have been given new life. Jon Irvin restored them both, combining a small-town, family friendly business with his love for the movies.
“I moved to North Carolina in 2008. My sister lived here and I loved to visit, see the mountains and hike. While hiking the Appalachian Trail, my sister called me. I was in the middle of Maine, and she said there was a movie theatre for sale. I made my scheduled stop and ended up coming back to Andrews,” Irvin said.
“It was a lifelong dream of mine to own a movie theater. I always thought that was something I would enjoy doing. In the summer of 2011, we struck a deal and purchased the Andrews Cinema, where we learned what customers liked. With my passion for movies, I did my best to repair and bring
back the cinema to where customers would like to come again.
“Over the years, we looked at Murphy and thought it’d be fun to restore an old historic theater. My wife, Laura, is good at designing things, so she had an interest in it as well. Last year, the Henn came up for sale, and we struck a deal again.
“We stepped in and really pulled off an HGTV-type episode. We’ve had fun going back in time with something that was built in the early 1930s, gutting the place out and really getting down to the bones of the structure from 1936.
“We also started the Berry Twisted Yogurt Stores in Andrews and Blairsville, Ga. We thought the town needed a date night spot. There was a trend of yogurt shops at the time, so we thought to bring that here.
“We tried to attract three different types of people to the Henn; the ones who’d come and had a bad experience, the people that had come from vacation and always frequented Murphy, and then the people that had never been there. In the last five months we’ve been open, people have given us extremely positive feedback.
“We picked and rolled with a 1940s theme. Most people were happy with the changes. There were 20 Henn Theatres in the country, and this is the last one remaining. It’s only changed ownership three times, with us being the third owners. It was scary for people because they thought we were going to change the name and everything, but we made it clear that we were sticking to the history of the Henn. That’s what fascinated us to begin with.
“I want to leave the mark that ‘this guy’ ran a reputable, honest place and treated customers with respect. You can’t please everyone, but we try our best. We live in Andrews and love it here. We enjoy Murphy as well with our business there. Murphy pulls behind each other with businesses. I come from a big city, so I try to bring a big-city appeal with a small-town feel. Murphy has been great.
“My faith has shaped me into who I am today. There are so many things humans try to do under their own power, and you can’t. I’ve struggled with instances in life where people fail you, but Jesus doesn’t.
“As far as a human figure, my dad inspired me by teaching me work ethic and to never give up. The abilities I have come from God. A lot of people don’t want to hear that these days; they feel there isn’t something out there that watches over us. I give all my glory to Him. I can’t take any personal credit,” Irvin said.
If you would like to nominate a local resident for “Humans of Cherokee County,” please email firstname.lastname@example.org.