Showing 6 comments
New Flickr set with three interior shots of the Bells Theater. Check back soon for more photos will be added.
The Bells Theatre was owned by the family who owned the Wintergarden food processing plant, now known as PictSweet products. It was closed in the early ‘70s and used a storage by the company, filled with filing cabinets and old office furniture. In the mid-1970s, Joe Kincaid moved his pop-vocal studio from Alamo to the Bells Theatre. His former students included Linda Thompson-Jenner-Foster and Marty Slayton. Joe cleaned up the threatre, painted the lobby, built dressing rooms in the basement under the stage and added light and sound systems. It was used for live theatre and the studio musical productions. The projection room is still there and was used for a control room, spotlights, etc. Although it was called “Kincaid Studio,” at one point Joe hung a sign that said “Wintergarden Theatre” which was not an official name.
When Joe tragically passed away in the mid-1980s, his sister, former Miss Tennessee, entertainer, recording artist and studio singer, Deby Kincaid took over the studio and taught 150+ voice students per week until around five years ago when the roof of an adjoining building fell in. Due to structural damage, a local architect suggested it might not be safe to have the kid in every week. So the studio was moved to another location. For almost thirty years, the theatre held musical shows several times a year, with five or more performances each time to SRO audiences.
I drove by in April ‘10 and the back stage-door was open. I only had a small flashlight with me. Since it has been unused now for 5 years or so, the interior was typically damp and musty smelling. After many years as a local movie house followed by over 20 years of live musical productions involving literally thousands of young people, the theatre is now standing empty and dark. The buildings on the right side (north) have been razed. I don’t know what the future holds at this point. Downtown Bells ain’t what it used to be. Like many small towns, people shop “down the road” in the larger communities. The theatre was lucky to have Joe and Deby to keep the building alive with music and productions for 30 years. At least, the building is still there. More current photos will be posted shortly.
OK, the first one was located in the north-east corner of Summer and White Station. The second one is the current location. I assumed they were the same owner/company but from reading here, it looks like two different owners. On the southwest side of that intersection on Summer was a sign saying THAT was the city limits in 1953. The first Holiday Inn was just to the west, before Mendenhall. I can’t believe Holiday Inn didn’t keep it as a museum or something.
So sad that they demolished the beautiful sign and gutted the interior instead of refurbishing it! The Crosstown was a beautiful showplace at one time. So sad for its loss! I took the following photos with my cell phone
Had I known they were going to destroy the rest of the facade, I would have returned to make photos with a better camera.
I don’t remember the theatre, but Pilant Music Center was in that strip in the 1970s. I worked there.
Here are some photos taken November ‘06, including one of the rear.
They have not been color corrected, but they will give you a larger idea of how the Crosstown looks today.