Uptown Theatre

1502 Bardstown Road,
Louisville, KY 40205

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Uptown Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Located in the Schuster Building at the intersection of Eastern Parkway in the Highlands neighborhood, the Uptown Theatre opened on April 8, 1928.

The Uptown was Louisville, Kentucky’s first theatre to open equipped for showing both silent and sound films.

A single screen theatre, the Uptown featured a classic proscenium-arch stage, flanked on each side by small faux balconies that masked air circulation vents. As did many theatres of the early sound era, the theatre had an orchestra pit and small backstage dressing rooms for performers who provided entertainment between films.

The Uptown operated as an independent theatre (not affiliated with any of the national theatre chains of the era) and was operated by locally-owned 4th Avenue Amusements. In its early years, the Uptown’s slate of films ran the gamut from the first Academy Award winner “Wings” to movies starring the Bowery Boys.

The theatre ran fairly steadily, surviving the height of TV’s popularity in the 1950’s (in 1957, a total of five neighborhood theatres in the Louisville area closed in a single week.) When 4th Avenue Amusements ceased operations in the late 70’s, the theatre closed and sat idle until the early 80’s, when it was reopened under the management of Louisvillian Howard Hunter.

Operating under a format similar to Louisville’s Vogue Theatre, the Uptown ran second run, B-movies and classic films. Howard Hunter was bought out by a local businessman in the late 80’s and the theatre continued operations until 1989, when a combination of the popularity of cable TV and home video, increased upkeep and operating expenses and managerial missteps lead to the theatre closing for what would be the final time.

A brief attempt was made by the local arts community to purchase the Schuster Building and Uptown Theatre for a proposed film school, but nothing came of the project. The theatre’s auditorium was demolished for parking space in April of 1994. The theatre’s front entrance and lobby area have survived as part of the renovated Schuster Building.

Contributed by Lucian Tomes Jr.

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

FilmWolf
FilmWolf on April 9, 2007 at 2:42 pm

Many thanks for the info about the Schuster Building, “Lost Memory”. A few other points that I wanted to make in my initial entry about The Uptown was that it was probably the last theatre in Louisville to still be using carbon-arc projectors (it converted briefly to xenon lamps prior to its closing). Also, the marquee that hung over the front sidewalk since its opening in 1928 was destroyed by the tornado that struck the city on April 3, 1974. The restored Schuster Building currently has a pseudo marquee of similar dimensions hanging in its place.

kamiel
kamiel on April 17, 2007 at 10:50 pm

What I think was the lobby is now a Qdoba restaurant’s dining room. Ticket window is still sort of there. I think this was the 2nd to last single-screen neighborhood theater in Louisville when it closed.

FilmWolf
FilmWolf on May 2, 2007 at 9:39 am

That’s correct, kamiel, with the last being The Vogue in St.Matthews (itself now sadly gutted and converted to retail space.)…

kamiel
kamiel on October 6, 2007 at 5:39 am

I uploaded a picture of the theater from the 1970s, if anyone is interested:

View link

Since it’s public domain, it can be added here if someone knows how.

Scottoro
Scottoro on July 21, 2008 at 12:44 pm

Though the Uptown was a second run theatre by the 1960s, for some strange reason Planet of the Apes opened here on an exclusive first run engagement in 1968.

Mike Richardson
Mike Richardson on March 12, 2010 at 12:37 pm

From Strand Newsletter 3/12/10

“The Strand Theatre Pipe Organ, endowed by the Shelby County Historical Society, has taken another step closer to rebuilding. The Strand’s organ was manufactured by the Louisville Pipe Organ Company (LPO) in 1928. It was one of a handful of instruments the firm made specifically for theatre use.

Our organ (Strand Theatre, Shelbyville, IN), Opus 531, was built in Terre Haute Indiana after LPO moved from Louisville. It was originally built for the Sipe Theatre in Kokomo, Indiana. The theatre never took the instrument, so it was installed in the Uptown Theatre in Louisville, Kentucky. This organ was removed from the theatre and installed in a church in Tell City Indiana. In 1977 it was removed from the church and placed in storage."

http://www.strand-theatre-shelbyville.org/

Mike Richardson
Mike Richardson on March 12, 2010 at 12:38 pm

continued…

“It remained in storage until acquired for the Strand project in 2004.”

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