Showing 51 - 75 of 77 comments
I recall that the Sarratt was named after one Madison Sarratt. My wife and I used to go there occasionally when she worked at Vanderbilt. I finally got to see Citizen Cane or Kane there
I am not familiar with another Roxy on 6th Ave. Any info is welcome.
I once nearly got kicked out of the Roxy by putting my feet on the seat in front of me.
When my mother went there in about 1923 it was simply called Glenn Elementary School. It was an interesting old building so naturally the school board tore it down. The Roxy was in what we called Northeast Nashville but the Woodbine was not, being out on Nolensville Road.
Old family friend Delmas Jenkins told me he once went to the Peafowl and was terrified at the rough crowd in the place. At one point the manager came down the aisle cracking a bull whip to restore order!!!
Can you top that story?
The bowling alley was in a building back behind the theater.
The Inglewood also had a party room. I went to a birthday party there one time. I believe the Cry Room was on one side of the center aisle and the Party Room was on the other.
Tom Sharp, later a councilman, had a drug store just a door or two from the Inglewood. I believe the theater was built on the site of the old Creamland ice cream shop.
I was amused when the building became Joywood Salvage as the Joywood community was miles from there over near Trinity Lane.
The Four different Elites were the one on Charlotte across from Richland Park, the one on the west side of Fifth Avenue which you can see on some older postcards, the one on Monroe, which building still stands, and the one on 2nd Ave South, which was torn down when the new Capitol was built on the site.
I imagine all four were pronounced EEE-lite.
Listen to an older guy here. There were two different Crescents in the block of Fifth Avenue between Church and Union. Both on the west side. The first was up toward Union at 233 and appears in some old postcards of the neighborhood. This theater opened about 1908 or 1909 and was later about 1910 renamed the Elite, one of four Elites we had over the years. Then there was one starting about 1915 down closer to Church Street at 217 in a building that still stands. Nashville Old Timer Delmas Jenkins told me this one was formed by combining two smaller “twin” theaters that used the same box office, which is to say ticket booth. This one was still listed in 1924 but was gone by 1926. The only connection between these and the re-naming of the New Princess was that all were owned by Crescent Amusement Co.
See my comments on the other Capitol page. The Capitol was at the west end of the block and the Princess lobby was just east of McKendrie Church. The Capitol lobby was where the Warner Building, later called Sudekum Bldg and later called Tennessee Bldg was located and right next door to where the much later Tennessee Theater was built.
tisloews: I don’t understand your comment about the location of this theater. If you’re talking about the place where the Tennessean is published/printed, it is a long way from this site.
Also I question the statement above about the Capitol “moving.” The Capitol on Churh Street opened in 1926 and burned in 1929. Sound equipment had been ordered for this house but was then sent to the Fifth Avenue which then went from a vaudeville policy to a talking picture policy.
The Capitol on 2nd Ave South didn’t open until I believe 1937 and was built on the site of one of the four Elite Theaters that Nashville had at one time.
I have been in here many times, in fact I once roomed with the manager and his wife, William A and Martha McPherson, and I used to go up to his office in the concessions/projection building and talk to him. Mr Mack had formerly managed the Capitol on 2nd Avenue South. Wonderful people. My wife and I went by their graves in Spring Hill just this past Wednesday to pay our respects.
I have been in the Bijou building twice: once unsuccessfully to see a stage show and once after the theater was closed and awaiting demolition. My father and I went to see the show with friend who knew Alfred Starr and we thought we could get in but after awhile one of the employees came and told us we had to leave as they had been unable to reach Mr Starr and their orders had been to admit no whites without his okay. Of course the theater was darkened on this occasion and we couldn’t seee very much of the interior, but when I went back into the closed building I could see what was left of a box seat up near the stage. I also went up to the office where the files had been emptied and there were many papers on the floor which I now wish I had looked through.
Sorry guys- the Fifth Avenue occupied the southerly part of what is now an expanded Walgreens. The stage entrance is still somewhat visible in the alley, though altered. The Fifth Ave was at 218, the Alhambra was next door to the south at 216 and then the Rex was at 214 one more door down as you went toward Church Street. All on the east side of Fifth Ave. There have been something like a dozen theaters in this block, mostly movie houses and now all gone and forgotten.
Yes, I well remember the very nice plaque of Marcus Loew in the lobby. You may be aware that for many years Loew’s did not have a concession stand and that was considered a plus by many patrons who did not like to have to hear the rattle of popcorn sacks. But eventually management gave way to the bottom line reasons for selling popcorn etc etc.
I bring this up because the plaque was near the concessions as I recall. Of course as a child I had no idea who Mr Loew was but I still admired the plaque, which was kept bright and shiny.
To begin with there was Henry Sudekum, a baker and merchant, born in Pittsburgh in 1855 and died in Nashville in 1952 at a very respectable age, as you can see. Henry’s wife was Sara Eggensperger or Eggensberger- I have seen it both ways. Their crypt is in the old mausoleum at Spring Hill if you care to pay your respects. They had seven children, four of whom were sons and would be involved with Crescent Amusement Company.
Henry and son Anthony (“Mr Tony”) and Wiley J Williams opened their
first theater -the Dixie- on Nashville’s 5th Avenue in 1907. This little theater seated 170 and at a nickel a pop a full house brought in $8.40. By 1916 Tony had become the top man of the growing concern.
Mr Tony married Nettie Elizabeth Fessler and they had four daughters: Viola, Betsy, Marie and Sara, all of whom have now passed on. Viola and Sara were married to top men in Crescent: Vi to Elmer Baulch and Sara to Kermit Stengel.
Mr Tony’s brothers William, Harry and Clarence “Hap” were all at various times managers of one or the other of the company’s moving picture houses.
William managed the Elite on Monroe and later the Elite on Charlotte (Note: there were four different Elites in Nashville over the years and they were all pronounced E-lite) and eventually was a branch manager of Crescent.
Harry managed the Princess at one time and Hap ran the Roxy. This is not a complete listing of these brothers' careers but you get the point.
Bob Baulch, a grandson of Mr Tony’s, once told me the firm at peak had partnerships in about 125 houses and owned about 75 outright. These extended from Union City on the west to Kingsport the east and as far north as Madisonville, KY, and as far south as Gadsden, AL. The firm also owned the Union Ice Cream of my youth as well as Hippodrome Ford and the Hippodrome Roller Rink. Bob said the Princess and the Orpheum were Mr Tony’s favorite theaters. Crescent sold their theaters to Martin in 1961 but kept other interests until later years.
Please send in any corrections to the above- thanks.
You may be aware that Crescent’s offices were over the Fifth Avenue lobby for many years until the new Princess was built, at which time offices were relocated upstairs at that site.
The name “Knickerbocker” had been painted long ago on the two ends of the Capitol Boulevard side of the building, one facing north and the other south and at the very top of the wall. Until the building was razed, the name could still be seen on both ends, though not from street level. From the garage to what was originally the Hyatt Regency Hotel (now I believe the Holiday Inn Crown Plaza), you could see the painted name facing north, and from Church Street Center, you could see the one facing south.
That side of the building was covered with white glazed brick and decorated with what I thought Terra Cotta-like trim. The drug store had covered this up of course. When the building came down, I picked up a piece of the white brick which included some of the trim. As luck would have it, this was lost or left behind when we moved several years later. Rats !!!
Although you may not have noticed it, the marquee at Loew’s was supported by two strong cables coming down from the building. At the top of these cables were decorative fixtures in the shape of Lions' heads.
When the Church Street entrance was finally being demolished so that Church Street Center could be built, I approached the wrecker and asked what he wanted for the two lions heads.
I can’t recall now what he asked for them but I do remember that I thought it too much and I didn’t take them. If I had it to do over, I might have gone for the deal.
Oops, I meant Snooky Lanson not Smoky Larson. Must be olde age.
On December 13, 1947, I was with my parents at the Loew’s Vendome to see the movie “It Had to be You.” After the feature ran, the footlights came on and Snooky Lanson (then just a local entertainer- this was before he went to the Hit Parade) suddenly appeared in front of the curtain (the traveler, not the asbestos mentioned above) and introduced actor/comedian Keenen Wynn. This had not been advertised and as far as I know had simply been hastily arranged when Wynn was in town and available.
Wynn did a comedy monologue and concluded with an old vaudeville bit called “Guzzler’s Gin,” which had been written by Fred Allen and made famous by Red Skelton. As I mentioned in my comment on the Princess, my dad just loved Vaudeville and he got a big kick out of this added and unexpected attraction. Taking a chance that Wynn would again appear after the next showing of the feature, we moved to the box seats nearest the stage on the right hand side as you face he stage. We hit the jackpot and Lanson and Wynn were again seen after the next show. Wynn was very funny.
Many years later in 1982 Keenen Wynn appeared as a guest on Dan Miller’s show “Miller and Company” and told Miller that this was his first time in Nashville. He had forgotten the 1950 visit and I never knew why he had been in town the first time. Surely not just so he could appear on the Loew’s stage.
Then some more years later, I ran into Smoky Larson at a funeral where he sang and I reminded him of the above event and he did remember it.
The night of June 22, 1950 I went with my parents to the Knickerbocker to see “Curtain Call at Cactus Creek” which starred Donald O'Connor. It had been announced that O'Connor would appear in person after the show.
As I mentioned before there was no stage at the Knickerbocker, simply a dais or platform formed by a series of semi-circular steps ascending to the tiny apex. Sure enough Donald O'Connor was introduced and entertained us briefly. He asked if there were any requests and my dad asked him to sing a song that he had sung in the movie we had just seen. O'Connor explained that he had learned that song just for the movie and didn’t even remember the words.
I later heard that the O'Connor family had played the Princess when Donald was a boy. I believe they had an acrobatic act of some kind.
I’ll get this info on tomorrow.
Yes I very well remember Harvey’s and the licking I got for going to ride the new escalators when I had been told to come straight home from the old uptown Y.
Boy, would I like to have a piece of that Harveys (Kleeman’s) apple pie !!!
tisloews: I mentioned Russ McCown on my Vendome entry- you probably knew him. His father was high in Crescent and Russ was Sir Cecil Creep of TV fame. Russ and I had talked about spending our old age writing the Crescent story but alas Russ died pretty young. I still have a lot of Crescent notes and I’ll be posting some of them here. Years ago I rented a small apartment from Mr & Mrs Wm A McPherson, who had managed the Capitol on 2nd Ave and later the Bordeaux Drive- in. He told some great stories of Mr Tony and others of that era. I look forward to participating in this forum of old theaters.
Walgreens expanded into the former Fifth Avenue building, so it does occupy the old Fifth Avenue site as well as its own original site. If you go back in the alley behind this building (which I’ve always called “Arcade Alley”) you can still see what was the stage entrance to the theater in a very modified state. I photographed it not too many years ago.
The Fifth Avenue ran a lot of Republic cowboy pictures in “Trucolor,” a cheaper ripoff of Technicolor. After the theater closed, there was a pizza parlor in front and a wrestling or possibly boxing ring with bleacher seats in the back.
William Henry Wassmann (1870-1928) had operated the Crystal here as early as 1912. The beam in the Knickerbocker building referred to by a writer above said “Wassmann’s Theatre.” He opened the Knickerbocker March 16, 1916 and on September 8 of the same year sold both the Crystal and the Knickerbocker to Crescent Amesement Company.
I bet I am the only one reading these lines who saw a big name movie star appear at this theater. There was no stage, just a little round platform with encircling steps, if I make myself clear. If there is any interest I will give the name and date of this appearance.
The Knickerbocker had the first “electric eye” door opener I ever saw.
The old original Princess of my childhood played mostly double features, or I should say double “B” features. They had a booth in the lobby that for 35c would let you record your voice. I never saw one of these in another theater. The manager was Russ Parham.