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My father always said that when the Warner Bldg was built it was planned that a theater be there but what with the Depression etc it didn’t get done for many years. I rode through town the night the Tennessee was opened and saw the crowds but didn’t get to go to the gala opening at which some movie premiered.
By the way I believe the old Capitol occupied part of the Odd Fellows building at 6th and Church. The Odd Fellows Lodge might have owned the property as I seem to recall that it was simply leased for 100 years to the builders of the Warner building and I understamnd they had a Lodge on the top floor. They might even yet own the propertty. I think the high-rise condo building there is called the Cumberland- is this correct?
The Dixie was on Fifth Avenue, not Church Street.
It opened in 1907 and according to one of Tony Sudekum’s grandsons the seating was 170 so that at 5Â¢ a seat a full house brought in $8.50.
It is said that the Dixie had Nashville’s first curved marquee featuring twelve electric light bulbs.
The Colonial was owned by one John F Marshall by 1918. In about 1926 it became the Elite (possibly having been bought by Crescent at the time) and survived under this name until demolished about 1935 or 36 and replaced by the Capitol. Note there were four Elites and two Capitols here at various times.
Why is there no listing for the Colonial Drive-In on Gallatin Road in Madison, or for that matter why not the Montague Drive-In also in Madison?
I believe that Lloyd Lawrence managed the original Madison at one time. He had two brothers who also managed Crescent houses: Johnny at the Rex and Joe at the Woodland.
The Hillsboro was operated by M A Lightman or “Malco” out of Memphis and had movies and vaudeville acts. It is said that Tony Sudekum built the Belmont on the next corner to run Lightrman out of Nashville and it worked.
The original entrance was on 21st and if you look at the tavern there called I believe the Villager you will see the name Hillsboro in the concrete and brick cornice of the building.
If you go inside the tavern and walk to the back you will see an atrium style lobby complete with a dome overhead. Worth the trip.
During the time when this was the Community Playhouse it also served as the Children’s Theater for plays directed at the younger set. If you went to these plays and saved your programs you could turn them in for admission to an Ice Cream Festival in the spring. I have attended many such.
One side of the Belcourt still has the beautiful proscenium arch and I believe the name Hillsboro can be seen in it.
This is a very late response to the question above about an Orpheum Theater in Nashville. Yes there was indeed an Orpheum. It faced 7th Avenue and the stage entrance was on Capitol Blvd right across from the Knickerbocker. In other words it was behind Castners and downhill from the YMCA. It was eventually torn down for a parking lot. It began life as a vaudeville house but later went to road shows and served as the playhouse here until the late 1930s, when those attractions started playing the Ryman. Why there is not a page on this program for our Orpheum I do not know. Possibly because it wasn’t a movie house, ergo not a Cinema Treasure.
The Ryman is between Commerce and Broad. The various movie theaters we have discussed on Fifth Avenue were between Union and Church. This includes the Alhambra, Rex, Fifth Avenue, Strand, one of the Elites, two of the Crescents, the Dixie, the Rialto and the Crystal.
Can someone please tell me why there is no page for Nashville’s Orpheum? I wanted to ask some questions and of course share some wisdom with the younger set.
I think that 314 address is wrong. I think the Star was at 412, being between 4th and 5th or right around the corner from the Bijou.
There was a tiny Excell next door at 416 and then a few doors up the Lincoln at 424 and then the very small Majestic at 426. All for African-American audiences and all short-lived.
The Rex was a Crescent house. I have a newspaper clipping showing the Crescent execs standing in the entrance of the Rex.
The Rex was ten (10) seats wide and showed “C” pictures if there is such a grade. They would have a double feature (both very old) and then several worn out shorts, also from years back.
It was claimed that rats were sometimes seen in the Rex.
It cost 12Â¢ to get in but the mosaic on the lobby floor said 10Â¢.
This building was behind NES and sat unused for many years after it was closed. The sides of the building were overgrown with vines and weeds.
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.