Rialto Theatre

400 Cherokee Street,
Kingsport, TN 37660

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Originally opened in 1939, the Rialto Theatre became the second and third run science fiction movies theatre in the late-1950’s. By then it was showing its age and getting tattered. Because it was near the somewhat skid row ‘five points’ intersection and neighborhood, it had a seedy reputation.

It closed as a movie theatre in 1961 or 1962. The auditorium was gutted and converted into a billiard parlour. Apartments were built over the parlour, and a restaurant operated out of the lobby. The marquee was still used to advertise the restaurant.

In the 1960’s, a gas explosion in the basement damaged the structure and it was closed. It was demolished around 1968.

Contributed by Jack Coursey, Bruce Gentry

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on November 4, 2006 at 3:42 pm

Here is an ad for a rather exotic film showing at the Rialto on 1/23/38:

RIALTO THEATRE – Monday Only

For the first time on any screen … the horrifying, blood-chilling
rites of the savage PENITENTES, whose pagan idolatry forces
them to undergo self-torture and flagellation before they can reach
the apex of their sacrifices, crucifixion!

MAN HUNTERS OF THE CARIBBEAN

with ANDRE ROOSEVELT, CAPT. E ERSKINE LOCH

Any Seat – 10c and 20c – Any Time

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on August 22, 2007 at 10:02 pm

Here is a December 1944 ad from the Kingsport Times:
http://tinyurl.com/2w25hs

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 22, 2010 at 3:08 am

The description accompanying this 1946 photo of the Rialto and a neighboring store gives the theater’s address as 400 Cherokee Street. It also says that the buildings on this block have been demolished to make way for a parking lot.

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