709 Broad Street,
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The Tivoli was built by the Chicago firm of Rapp & Rapp, and opened on March 19, 1921 after almost 2 years of construction, costing $1 million, a huge sum for the day. No expense was spared to make this one of the most lavish and luxurious theaters Tennesseeans had ever seen. In fact, after it opened, it was called The Jewel of the South.
The Tivoli Theatre featured a domed ceiling in the lobby, with gilded plasterwork and imported European crystal chandeliers. The theater originally hosted both vaudeville and silent movies, but was wired for sound in 1929. It also was one of the first public buildings in Tennessee to be air conditioned. In 1926, Paramount acquired the Tivoli Theatre, making it a part of its empire, in which it would remain until after WWII.
From its opening all the way into the 1940’s, the Tivoli Theatre remained the premier entertainment venue for the city, but by the end of the 1950’s, the theater’s audience had been lured away by television and it closed in 1961.
After a partial renovation, the Tivoli Theatre reopened two years later, but closed again in the early-1970’s. The City of Chattanooga purchased the Tivoli Theatre in 1976, and in 1979, plans were begun to restore the palace to its former glory, but work did not actually get underway until 1986.
Three years later, the Tivoli Theatre reopened, brilliantly and painstakingly restored to its 1920’s appearance, along with a new sound and light system, a larger stage, new dressing rooms, a green room, and rehearsal space.
Today, the Tivoli Theatre is home to the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera, as well as concerts, dance, and Broadway shows.
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