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New restaurant is opening in the old theatre, after some restoration:
Toward the end of its life, the Elite was used for live theater productions. I have several friends who appeared there in a stage production of “1776” in the early 1970s.
Thanks for the info about the autographed marble slabs from the Belle Meade, tncamper. As long as they weren’t thrown in a dumpster, which I feared. The Belle Meade was definitely the queen of the suburban movie houses. I believe my first visit was to see “Gone With the Wind” in 1961 for the Civil War centennial. I would’ve been about 9. I then saw GWTW again in the awful 1967 “widescreen” release, where they simply cropped the image to fit a wide screen. One screening there, maybe 1989, when the film was restored, the Belle Meade featured a lobby exhibit of props etc. from the movie. I recall a window from the Tara set especially. The last movie I saw at the Belle Meade was the restored “Lawrence of Arabia,” mentioned by Imaxguy above. I sat on the very back row so I could take it all in, also knowing that the theater would soon be closing. Going to a movie there, like the downtown theaters, was an event.
Just did a show at the newly-restored Capitol Theatre in Lebanon. The interior of the theatre is completely new, retaining a bit of the old architecture. The terrazzo floors were restored, the original restroom signs, some light fixtures etc. Beautifully done. I hope they enjoy great success. In addition to live performances, they’re also screening movies there again.
We lived near the Bel-Air when I was a child and have many happy memories of the adventure of going to the movies there. We were allowed to wear our pajamas and sometimes we were allowed to sit on the roof of the car, which I’m sure annoyed anyone behind us. I distinctly remember seeing “South Pacific,” “Moby Dick,” “The Ten Commandments,” and some Dean Martin/Jerry Lewis movie there. Somewhere I have a great photo of the marquee but it’s hiding from me. I’ll post it if it turns up.
The Blu-ray release of “How the West Was Won” includes a fantastic history of Cinerama. It’s magnificent on a big TV. Worth the price of the movie. And HTWWW restored, with the Cinerama dividing lines removed is breathtaking.
Magnificent! Thank you for your efforts in making this theatre a treasure for years to come.
Hey, TLSLOEWS, I don’t know who this Robin person is that has never posted your photos … but I’d sure love to see all these marquee photos you talk about. The new format of Cinema Treasures makes it very simple to upload photos. I’m also on Facebook in all the Nashville nostalgia groups. Love to see what you have.
My father worked at Florsheim Shoes, on the corner next to the Princess. The Jackson Bldg and that half-block was torn down to build Cain-Sloan Department Store. Florsheim moved around on 6th Ave N next to the Knickerbocker Theatre and the Princess moved down the block to the site of the old Grand Theatre. Like so much of the rich heritage of Nashville, the original site of the Princess and the Jackson Bldg is now an asphalt parking lot, adding to the bank account of Central Parking, Public Enemy No. 1 to Nashville’s architectural history.
Longtime manager Ed Jordan had a Wall of Fame in the lobby for years. There were two huge white marble slabs and visiting celebrites would sign in black ink. There were probably 100 signatures on those marble tablets … Walt Disney, Doris Day, Bob Hope, Charlton Heston, Ronald Reagan, Fess Parker, Bela Lugosi, and many more. It was thrilling to see these “in-person” autographs which were displayed behind glass in the lobby. They became property of Bookstar Bookstores when they occupied the space for several years. The wherabouts to these priceless autographed marble slabs remain unknown, as far as I know. Does anyone have any info? I worry they’re lost and would feel better if they still exist, even if privately owned.
The Madison Square Theatre building is now home to Covenant of the Cross church. The auditorium was extensively remodeled.
The Madison Square Theatre has been gutted and renovated as the new home of Covenant of the Cross church. http://www.covenantofthecross.com/
http://www.myspace.com/covenantofthecross has photos during the renovation process.
Nice folks there but I’d still hoped it could be returned to use as a movie and live theatre venue.
Correction to previous comment: The glass bricks are NOW lit up at night. Sorry for the typo.
The Madison Theatre building has been bought by the Seventh Day Adventists and will be a multi-use facility for classes etc. Ironically, the glass bricks that run up the center of the front over the marquee were restored not long before the building sold. They’re not lit up at night by flourescent lights inside and look wonderful! A last glimmer of the old glamour that used to live there.
Sadly, they’ve painted over what remained of any decor since that library photo was taken. Everything is a bland beige now.
I LOVE this website. Ask and it shall be answered by someone, somewhere with a heart that cherishes these cinema treasures.
Here’s a link with a photo. It’s interesting that the website for rental info doesn’t even show a photo. Then again, it’s not worth seeing in comparison to the glorious marble and chrome structure it replaced.
At the time of the demolition, I heard a rumor that the lobby of the office entrance was dismantled and numbered like a jigsaw puzzle so that it could be reassembled. Probably too good to be true and it’s never been mentioned again. This is Nashville’s way … rather than face the challenge of saving something beautiful and historic â€" the 1973 Grammy Awards were broadcast live from the stage of the Tennessee Theatreâ€" the city always allows the economic factors to win out.
The property is currently listed for sale at $650,000. I shudder to think what will become of the building. It’s really in great shape, inside and out, as far as I can tell.
The former site of the Bordeaux Drive-In on Clarksville Hwy is now occupied by a Kroger store and the new Bordeaux Public Library. A bit of trivia: directly across the street in a little non-descript building was the longtime dentist office of James Denton Sr. DDS. (He pulled my wisdom teeth). His oldest son James “Jamie” Denton is now one of the stars of ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” and has appeared in dozens of films and TV shows. Dr. Denton passed away about 10 years ago. Jamie’s tatoo on his bicep is a tribute to Dr. Jim.
The Plaza is where I saw “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” I think I was the last Nashvillian to finally see Indiana Jones on the screen. It’s still one of my favorites.
As a 56-year-old native Nashvillian, I can recall that the historic Hermitage Hotel, Union Station and the Ryman Auditorium were all threatened by the wrecking ball at one point. As I’ve always said, thank God the French Quarter wasn’t in Nashville … it would now be a parking lot, Walgreens' or Home Depot. We DO NOT cherish our architectural past with very few exceptions. It makes me extremely sad and ashamed.
I know several folks who have studied this space for a possible dinner theatre. Apparently, it would take a lot of money to get the place up to codes … new electrical, plumbing and replacement of the sprinkler system.
The latest news is that the Madison Arts Center has closed. The property owners are considering options for use, including a possible church or home for abused women. The glass bricks mentioned above were indeed installed before the Arts Center went belly-up. I’m hoping some investor will swoop in and save the building before any further remodeling takes place.
I have no idea if Crescent built The Inglewood and have lately begun to doubt my earlier claim that the theatre was a “triplet” to the Belle Meade and the Melrose. My memory may be cloudy on that subject but it is still possible. I don’t know where the Inglewood Lanes were.
The Church Street of my childhood is mostly just a memory now. The Veridian, a 31-story high-rise commercial/residential skyscraper is being constructed on the site of the old Princess/Crescent Theatres, slap up against our first skyscraper, the L&C Tower at the corner of 4th & Church. It’s wonderful to see downtown Nashville waking up and coming alive once more, but it’s mostly happening at the cost of losing old, charming architecture. I shudder to think what will become of those wonderful, neglected, sad little architectural gems on Capitol Blvd. across from the Castner-Knott Bldg. If only I was rich!