Tivoli Theatre

709 Broad Street,
Chattanooga, TN 37402

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Tivoli Theatre

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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.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 40 comments)

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on September 24, 2008 at 5:29 pm

Here are ten photos of the Tivoli Theater from the Library of Congress.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on March 13, 2009 at 8:10 pm

Another photo of the Tivoli is here.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on April 24, 2009 at 4:14 pm

Brief shot of the Tivoli blade on the NBC Nightly News this evening.
A report from a Chattanooga jobs fair by the late Tim Russert’s son Luke.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on July 13, 2009 at 4:33 pm

This is a recent photo of the Tivoli.

HenryAldridge
HenryAldridge on January 5, 2010 at 5:39 pm

My understanding is that the organ console was removed in l939 to make more seating space available for showings of Gone With the Wind. The cable was cut and the console put backstage with the pedal board thrown on top. I have a photo of it in this condition which I took in l962 during the period when the theater was closed. Manager Clye Hawkins graciously let me in to take a few pictures.

Bill Barger and friends reattached the cable to the console in l965 so that it could be played for a Barbershop Quartet show. The Chattanooga Times photo shows that there were in fact no stop tabs on the console. I think Bill had to register it with the crescendo pedal.

The console was placed in a niche under the house left box seats and remained there until the console was rebuilt in the l990’s.

Many thanks to the present crew who looks after the instrument.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 8, 2010 at 5:40 am

The full name of the local associate architect for the Tivoli was Reuben Harrison Hunt.

mdeas19652
mdeas19652 on August 20, 2011 at 6:13 pm

Anyone have information on how the Tivoli made the stage larger? Did they take out a back wall and move the stage back or did they move forward and lose seating? Any help on details of how they enlarged the stage to accommodate a Symphony is greatly appreciated.

jarhead1964
jarhead1964 on December 16, 2012 at 11:52 pm

Hello and i hope someone can help with either photos or some info on the guys who were Ushers at the Tivoli in the late 30’s or the 40’s which my father was and i remember my dad telling me of the uniform he had to wear and the inspections for it was Burgandy and had a lot of brass buttons and he did enjoy it so. He has passed and his name is Vernon K McAllister and any info would be wonderfull. Thank You his son Robert

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on December 17, 2012 at 12:03 am

Official webpage: http://www.chattanooga.gov/education-arts-and-culture/tivoli-theatre

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