169 S. Main Street,
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Previous Names: Columbia Theater, Loew's Princess Theater, Paramount Theater
The Princess Theater opened on August 5, 1912 with vaudeville & moving pictures. It was operated by Southern Enterprises. In 1916 it was equipped with a 2 manual Kimball pipe organ. It was the most elaborate of the stud-lit free standing theatres. It was also the only one which used the spelling ‘theater’ militantly, even in the terra cotta. Not long after it opened, the deep entryway with its barrel vault became a mixed blessing. It sprouted several different canopies and an outdoor concession stand which actually kept the theatre viable in later years when it had acquired a bad reputation and a worse smell.
Loew’s rented it for a time, Paramount rented it also. Malco operated it and Kemmons Wilson (of Holiday Inn fame) owned the building.
The theater was later acquired by the Shelby Amusement Company and closed in 1969 with Fred Astaire in “Finian’s Rainbow” & The Beatles “Yellow Submarine”, and demolished in August 1971. In its last years the elaborate terra cotta façade had been covered or destroyed. Some interior plasterwork remained, but the smell did not abate until it was completely gone.
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