Bonnie Kate Theatre

115 Sycamore Street South,
Elizabethton, TN 37643

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NeonMichael on November 19, 2017 at 1:10 pm

In April 2016, the City of Elizabethton was the highest bidder to acquire the Bonnie Kate.

Here’s its history at that point, shamelessly* copied from the Elizabethton Star:

The first owner was Mrs. Ollie Browning of Bluefield WV in 1926. She lived upstairs above the theater. …

The theater formally opened to a full house on July 4, with a christening by former Governor Alfred Taylor. …

In 1950, Bob Neal, who owned the Ritz Theater downtown, purchased the theater from the Browning family.

In 1962, Earl Bolling, owner and operator of the Stateline Drive-In bought it from Bob Neal. …

In 1973, Ray Glover began managing the theater with his wife, Jeanette, until 1989. Then, they sold it to Leroy and Agnes Policky, who operated it for 15 years.

During the 1970s, a massive sheetrock wall was built to twin the theater, allowing two movies to be shown simultaneously.

In 2004, Leroy Policky sold the theater to Brian and Cindy Higgs, who operated it till 2012.

Since then, it has been without an owner. (Huh? If it was abandoned, then why were folks bidding on it?)

  • For the “fair use” scholarly purpose of establishing the timeline for this historic theater.
bonniekate on June 12, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Hi Chuck, Mike & Jack, We are currently working on plans to take out the “massive wall of sheetrock”. We would appreciate any suggestions or advice. Thanks! Cindy

JackCoursey on June 11, 2011 at 9:57 pm

It is really remarkable to find a theatre which has been in continuous operation for 85 years and in such remarkable shape! Even though the auditorium has been reconfigured into a twin it is salvageable in that the original proscenium and backstage area remain intact although entomb behind a massive wall of sheetrock. [url=]Maincourse: Theatres[/url]

TLSLOEWS on May 27, 2010 at 12:03 pm

I may just do that Mike.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on May 26, 2010 at 8:37 pm

Yes you do.And take photos.

TLSLOEWS on May 26, 2010 at 8:20 pm

I need to drive over and check out this one.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on May 25, 2010 at 5:47 pm

nice looking theatre,Boy, they enjoy splitting them theatres.

UnknownCinemaDude on June 13, 2009 at 9:40 pm

located in the same building , there is the bonnie kate cafe.

UnknownCinemaDude on June 3, 2009 at 11:10 pm

2009 photo it can be seen here:
View link

UnknownCinemaDude on June 3, 2009 at 11:07 pm

2009 photo of the bonnie kate cinema . can be seen here:
View link

norjam on May 6, 2009 at 4:36 pm

Some information the “Bonnie Kate” Theater in Elizabethton, Tennessee. During the years 1926 through 1929 Elizabethton experience a boom time when the Bemberg and Glanzstoff Rayon factories began operations there and several theaters were the result of that boom. The Bonnie Kate Theater is located at 115 Sycamore Street and is still in operation. The Bonnie Kate was built the Classical Revival Design and opened in the spring of 1926. The “Bonnie Kate” was named after Katherine Sherrill Sevier, a heroine of Carter County in the 1700’s and the wife of the first Governor of Tennessee. The “Bonnie Kate” opened to a full house of 500 enjoying the showing of a silent film. During the 1930’s and in the 1940’s a live local music show called “Barrels of Fun” was broadcast by two radio stations to a listening audience reported to be in the millions in the southeastern United States. I saw many movies here in the 1950’s. The theater converted to a split screen and rocking chair seating in 1969 and was reportedly the first theater east of the Mississippi with this type seating. Their concessions currently include burgers, etc.

Ripshin on March 30, 2009 at 12:19 am

One correction to the description…Elizabethton is not a college town.

kencmcintyre on January 31, 2008 at 9:30 am

Advertised as the Rocking Chair Theater in the late sixties. Architect was J. Frank Spires. Here is an undated photo:

JackCoursey on February 25, 2007 at 6:25 am

Bummer! Rip that drywall out and restore the arch.

littlemoo on February 24, 2007 at 10:39 pm

The old stage was torn out, but parts of the arch adornment around were the screen was is still there, just not where the public can see it. The auditorium was split down the middle and two seperate screens were put in. As far as I can tell it never had a balcony.

JackCoursey on February 24, 2007 at 6:27 am

When the auditorium was re-configured to accommodate two screens was it split down the centre or was the balcony enclosed? Please let us know when and where you post your interior shots of the Bonnie Kate.

littlemoo on February 23, 2007 at 9:44 pm

The Bonnie Kate is now owned by Cyndy and Bryan Higgs. It was twined back in the late 60’s, two owners ago. The inside has been remodeled, which started with the restrooms and worked its way to the lobby and concessions. The lobby has these wonderful columns and awesome brown marble that starts at the doors and goes all the way back to the entrance to the two auditoriums. I will add pictures of the inside as soon as I can find them.

Each screen now will seat 150 to 160 people and has wheel chair access. The ceilings inside are the original pressed metal, and brings a historical look and feel. The projectors have been replaced with better and more modern equipment including the new red sound readers. The audio equipment has also been replaced from the processors and amps to the speakers in the auditoriums.

It’s a great place to see a movie—nice, small-town atmosphere with really friendly people. Located just one block off Main St, and just a couple of blocks from the Covered Bridge, if you are in the area, it is one the best theaters anyone could visit. Cyndy keeps the current show times on

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on November 12, 2006 at 7:55 am

Opened in 1926, it is listed in the Film Daily Yearbook (1941 edition) with a seating capacity of 587.

JackCoursey on November 12, 2006 at 7:26 am

Here are a couple of photos by Seth Gaines.