Paintsville, KY - Showing at the SIPP: Paintsville hosting movies again in ‘historic’ theater to energize downtown

posted by ThrHistoricalSociety on January 2, 2017 at 5:16 am


From The Daily Independent: An 85-year-old movie theater dripping with nostalgia was revived by an eastern Kentucky city determined to invigorate a once-hopping downtown.

The Paintsville Main Street Association bought the old SIPP Theatre in 2010, four years after it played what most believed was likely its final film. At that time, the brick building had slipped into poor condition and become a ghost of its former self, showing mostly second-run movies as management struggled to compete with a five-screen cinema in the nearby plaza.

But 10 years after its last screening, the “Historic” SIPP is hosting movies again. In October, a line of hundreds of moviegoers wrapped around the block for a weekend showing of 1985’s “The Goonies.”

After receiving the bag of popcorn and can of soda pop included in the $5 ticket price, the crowd waltzed into the elegant, one-screen theater that used to capture many childhood imaginations.

In November, the SIPP fittingly hosted another 1985 classic, “Back to the Future.” In December, “It’s a Wonderful Life” returned to the SIPP screen for the first time in 70 years.

First-year Paintsville Tourism executive director Jeremiah Parsons said community response to the resurgence of the SIPP has been overwhelmingly positive.

“We’ve had people stop in there every day that it’s open,” he said. “Sometimes they just stick their head in. They say, ‘I used to be in here all the time,’ or ‘I got my first kiss up in the balcony.’ People have happy childhood memories of that place, that’s for sure.”

The city has invested significant money and time into renovating the SIPP to attract former patrons who now have children of their own.

In the past year, the city removed the façade installed in the 1960s, replaced windows and stripped paneling back down to the original brick. A classic three-sided marquee was added above a new wooden ticket booth.

Parsons said the facelift was vital for the downtown area.

“Any time you want to revitalize downtown, you have to have something that makes people want to come in,” he said. “We have our local downtown businesses where they’ll come and shop, but there’s no entertainment. Now they can have dinner and watch a movie before going home, all at a very affordable price, and all very local.”

Further renovations to the interior are scheduled for the winter months. The city will install a new floor and paint most of the theater. New, taller seats with head rests will replace the old, stationary seats. Once renovations are complete, the SIPP will resume showing one movie per month, Parsons said, in addition to plays and concerts.

The Main Street Players, a local theater group, began performing in the SIPP in 2012. The Johnson Central High School drama club also calls the SIPP home. An entertainment series, U.S. 23 Country Music Songwriters Night, will continue to alternate between the theater and the Country Music Highway Museum in Paintsville.

The classic theater has hosted hundreds of concerts and movies and been rejuvenated multiple times over its rich history by groups like the SIPP Theatre Foundation and now the city.

Local residents hope the newest efforts will turn the classic theater into the anchor for a lively downtown once again.

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ABOUT THEATRE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA: Founded by Ben Hall in 1969, the Theatre Historical Society of America (THS) celebrates, documents and promotes the architectural, cultural and social relevance of America’s historic theatres. Through its preservation of the collections in the American Theatre Architecture Archive, its signature publication Marquee™ and Conclave Theatre Tour, THS increases awareness, appreciation and scholarly study of America’s theatres.

Learn more about historic theatres in the THS American Theatre Architecture Archives and on our website at



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