Hilan Theatre

2102 E. Center Street,
Kingsport, TN 37664

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Hilan Theatre

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The Hilan Theatre opened April 17 1936. It was destroyed by fire December 24, 1939.

Contributed by Jack Coursey

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on February 21, 2007 at 4:47 pm

Trouble in March 1939:

MOVIE PROMOTER GUILTY OF CHARGE
Holly Leslie Pleads Guilty to Showing
Obscene Picture At Hilan Theater

Holly Leslie, traveling motion picture promoter, pleaded guilty Monday to charges in two warrants of “showing to the public obscene pictures” and “having obscene pictures in his possession.” Leslie was arrested by Constable Dave Pierce and tried before Magistrate T. Mack Ketron. The court fined him $25 and costs in each case.

Pierce said the warrants were drawn as a result of numerous complaints received from those who had seen the picture shown on the screen of the Hilan theater. The officer said the warrants were drawn as provided by the state statute which prohibits the showing or possession of “obscene literature, books, pamphlets or pictures or possession thereof.” The picture had been booked at the theater since last Monday. Sex was the theme of the picture, officers said, including the showing of the spread of venereal diseases. The title of the film was “Body of Beautiful”.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 16, 2014 at 2:57 pm

The Hilan Theatre was scheduled to open on Friday, April 17, according to the April 15, 1936, issue of The Kingsport Times. Kingsport’s first neighborhood theater was in a remodeled commercial building in the Highland Park district.

The paper gave the location of the theater as “Bristol Highway, next to Highland Garden.” Bristol Highway was the former name of was what is now E. Center Street. There’s no Highland Garden today, but maybe it was what is now Highland Indian Park, which would put the Hilan very near the later Fox Theatre, but I haven’t been able to confirm this. The Hilan Theatre might not have lasted very long, as nobody seems to remember it.

The Hilan was owned by the Taylor Brothers, as was the Fox, which opened in 1940. There’s some possibility that they were the same theater, but even if they weren’t it’s possible that the Taylors shut the Hilan down when the Fox opened. I haven’t found the Hilan mentioned in the newspaper later than 1939.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 16, 2014 at 6:34 pm

I’m glad you dug up that accurate information, Ron. I was about to link to a web page that mistakenly says that the Fox was the Hilan with a new name.

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