• Examples from each of the grand division with
a focus on West TN
• Small towns (populations: 1,200 to 5,875)
• Part of a theater circuit
• Built new, renovated, or remodeled between
Shift away from Picture Palace to
• Preexisting buildings in the heart of downtown
• Regular renovations
• “Modern” in every respect
• Air conditioning and heating
– Fire safety
– Projection and sound
– Corner stores
• Architects specialized in small-town theaters
Preexisting buildings in the Heart of
• McKenzie example:
– “The construction of this theatre right in the main
part of the business district will mean much to the
City of McKenzie and be an added asset in more
mays than one.” McKenzie Banner, April 5, 1940
Looking down Broadway towards the Caledonia
Masonic Lodge on Mule Day, 1930.
Looking down Cedar towards the Park Theatre
and the Lynn Hotel, c. 1960s.
“Modern in Every Respect:”
“This building will be remodeled into a first class theatre, modern in every respect…The newest type of
screen and movie equipment, and air condition will be installed.” Erwin Record, July 10, 1935.
“We do not believe any other small town, the size of Erwin, in the state of Tennessee can boast of having
such a beautiful theatre.” Erwin Record, November 3, 1935.
“It will be one of the most modern in West Tennessee.” Tennessee Republican, Aug 3, 1940.
“Already styled ‘The Showplace of West Tennessee,’ the theatre has taken on the appearance of theatres
in much larger cities.” Tennessee Republican, Aug 30, 1940.
“The Ritz Theatre is undergoing a remodeling which will class the show building with the most attractive
and modern in West Tennessee.” The Bruceton Reporter in the Carroll County Democrat, Sept 6, 1940.
New projection and sound equipment will give the theater “the most modern and up-to-date equipment
to be found in the country.” Union City Daily Messenger, Feb 14, 1939.
“The New Roxy is one of the most modern theatre buildings in this section of the country, and Mr. Henry
challenges movie goers to find one better equipped and better arranged. No expense has been sparred in
making the theatre attractive, and in use of the best equipment that the market [affords]. His sound and
lighting equipment are the most modern and up to date on the market.” Union City Daily Messenger,
March 9, 1939.
“The theatre when completed will be one of the most modern equipped and most beautiful in any town
this size in the state.” Coffee County News, April 23, 1936.
Comfort: Lighting (indirect)
Park Theatre in McKenzie, TN