Roxy Theatre

100 Franklin Street,
Clarksville, TN 37040

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 9, 2018 at 10:19 am

If the rebuilt Roxy expanded onto the site of the adjacent building then the original theater’s sidewall could not have been incorporated in the project, and that makes it unlikely that any of the original back wall was saved either.

dallasmovietheaters on March 9, 2018 at 7:23 am

Grand opening of the Roxy Theatre was March 27, 1947 with “Wake up and Dream.” It replaced the previous Roxy that was destroyed on December 16. 1945. Ad in photos. At relaunch, the new Roxy had taken over an adjoining building to reach its new seat count of 920. Martin Theatres Circuit closed the Roxy in 1980. Locals took over the theatre relaunching it for live theatre on November 3, 1983.

rivest266 on February 17, 2018 at 2:50 pm

Closed down in 1929 and reopened as the new Lillian theatre on December 22nd, 1930. Grand opening ad in the photo section.

DavidZornig on October 5, 2017 at 9:40 am

Current article about the damaged marquee.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 7, 2015 at 10:24 am

The theater description should probably include the fire in the mid-1940s (the official web site says 1945) which destroyed the house for a second time, and the subsequent rebuilding and reopening in 1947. I suspect that almost the only part of the Lillian Theatre remaining might be the east wall, adjacent to the parking lot, and possibly part of the back wall.

The east wall was most likely a common wall with an adjacent building erected at the same time as the second Lillian (the 1914 fire destroyed a number of buildings in the area) and would have to have been retained to support that building when the theater was rebuilt following the 1940s fire. The west wall along First Street looks like more modern brickwork and might date from 1947. There is some possibility that the Franklin Street facade dates from the Speight & Hibbs remodeling in 1941, which was to include a new front for the theater, but I’ve found no sources to confirm that it does.

Back in 2007 msimpson83 asked if there were plans to demolish the Roxy and replace it with an entirely new theater. The official web site say yes, alas. The project has not yet gotten underway, probably due to the difficulty of raising funds in the slack economy of recent years.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 6, 2015 at 7:23 pm

The Lillian Theatre was opened by Joseph Goldberg in 1912 or 1913. A major conflagration destroyed the house at the end of 1914 and it was rebuilt, as reported in the April 3, 1915, issue of The Moving Picture World:


“At Clarksville, Tenn., work was begun on March 8 preparatory to rebuilding the Lillian theater, destroyed by fire on December 30. A good deal of debris from the fire had to be removed before excavation could be started. The architects for the new house are Joseph & Joseph, of Louisville, Ky., who have built about thirty high class motion picture houses in Louisville and various cities through the South. The new theater will cost in the neighborhood of $20,000. The bulk of the stock is owned by the Colonial Amusement Company, of Nashville, Tenn.. but a part of it has been sold to the Clarksville investors, who took small blocks of a few shares at $10 a share.”

The October 23 issue of the same publication had this item about the Lillian:

“At Clarksville, Tenn., the new Lillian theater has been completed at a cost of approximately $20,000 and will be ready to open during the next few days. The theater is one of the prettiest small houses in the state. The old Lillian theater was burned last fall in a fire which destroyed a large section of the principal business portion of the city.”

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on March 29, 2014 at 9:57 am

David Bowers “Encyclopedia of Automated Musical Instruments” p. 551 mentions the installation of a Reproduco organ at the Lillian Theatre, Clarksville, Tennessee. There is no date on that reference, but certainly before 1930. In all likelihood it a was photoplayer: very similar to an orchestrelle.

TLSLOEWS on August 16, 2010 at 6:09 pm

Drove to Clarksville a few years ago and saw the Roxy looked the same as the 2009 photos.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 25, 2009 at 1:27 am

I found a reference to this theater as the Lillian in the February 22, 1941, issue of Boxoffice. The item said that Crescent had acquired the theater three years earlier. They were having the house remodeled. Plans were by the local architectural firm of Speight & Hibbs. A new facade and marquee were planned, so this may be when the name was changed.

In any case, the theater had been renamed the Roxy by 1946, when its destruction by fire was reported in the January 19 issue of Boxoffice. So far I’ve been unable to find anything in Boxoffice about the reconstruction, but I suspect that Speight & Hibbs did the design for that, too. From the photos it certainly resembles their other work of the period.

msimpson83 on September 12, 2007 at 8:53 am

Sheryl Crow’s video “All I wanna do” was filmed in front of the Roxy. Link to Youtube video:

msimpson83 on May 7, 2007 at 3:10 pm

I have been told that the Roxy is being torn down to be replaced with a new theater. Can anyone confirm this?

acatos on November 12, 2005 at 12:48 pm

Visiting Clarksville today, I drove down to see the Roxy and was graciously admitted by the Artistic Director John McDonald, who was adamant that this is and was an Art Moderne Theatre, not Art Deco because of the era of design and construction was post-Art Deco. Their website indicates that the Lillian gave way to the Roxy in 1945. The exterior of the theater looks good. The lobby has apparently been expanded inward, eating up seating and the stage expanded outward, doing the same. I believe he told me that the current seating is 200. The balcony has been walled off, similar to the Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, and converted into a 50-seat black box theatre. Because of rehearsal I was not able to be in the auditorium more than a moment but it appears that it is in “black box” decor. There seems to be nothing visible that is Art Moderne. As successful as the theatre may be, it appears that they took the Art Moderne house and turned it into a different kind of venue so that it no longer resembles the theatre that it once was except outside and to some extent in the lobby. My impressions were affirmed by my friends in the Clarksville are who remember it as it was.

enichols on August 14, 2005 at 6:09 am

Leon Cole, a wonderful organist who was widely known in Central Tennessee, toured with a Hammond and played horse shows, carnivals, political events, etc.. He told me that the Roxy had an Orchestrelle. He said he used to play it. We were both playing at the Montomery County Fair at the time (1956, maybe). He for the horse shows and I for everything else, as I recall. It’s been a long time. Wow.

There is no evidence of the Roxy’s having an Orchestrelle in the Aeolian records. I would doubt the Roxy had anything like a Morton or Wurlitzer. The cost was prohibitive for a pipe organ. Orchestrelles offered players which could be used when there was no live organist. Also, there was the matter of space for a pipe organ. I was too young to have been in the Roxy that burned in the 1940’s, although I well remember seeing the ruins, and was old enough to be at the opening of the present theater.

It is hard to believe that they would have had the space for a small pipe organ. Some companies that made Orchestrelle-type instruments used reeds, like harmoniums. In fact, there was a difference in Orchestrelles between the reed models and a “Pipe Orchestrelle”.

I played the organ at the Capitol. They tried an electronic Wurlitzer in about 1956/57. I was eighteen and at Austin Peay. O.C. Terrell managed (owned?) the theater at the time and was who asked me to play there. I was paid in gasoline from his service station on 41-A near Beech Haven.

JackCoursey on August 11, 2005 at 4:07 pm

I came across a article that stated the Roxy was at one time equipped with an organ. Do you have any information as to when the organ was in place, how many ranks it had and when was it removed?

enichols on August 11, 2005 at 5:04 am

I grew up in Clarksville, leaving there in 1960.

The immediate predecessor to the Roxy was another Roxy that had replaced the Lillian which burned in the mid 1940’s. New and fireproof!

The Capitol, now defunct, was a true Art Deco building from the early 1930’s. Somewhere there is a film that was made of its opening. It is a B&W sound flick featurning some of the vivid personalities in Clarksville at that time. I remember seeing it.

JackCoursey on August 7, 2005 at 1:57 pm

Current photos of the Roxy can be viewed at: