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Sept. 23, 2013
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Contact: Amanda Shell
[title] Knox County Mayor to present proclamation declaring ‘Tennessee Theatre Day’
The Tennessee Theatre is celebrating 85 years of excellent entertainment by opening its doors to the public for a First Friday open house and celebration on Friday, Oct. 4, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
“The historic Tennessee Theatre holds deep emotional attachment and many important memories for East Tennesseans,” Executive Director Tom Cervone said. “We are so lucky to have this beautiful community asset when so many other cities have seen their theatres torn down. That’s why, for our anniversary, we want to throw open our doors to celebrate this amazing facility with the Knoxville community, who has supported the theatre for the past 85 years.”
At the free First Friday event, guests will take a step back in time with 1920s swing music played by the Old City Buskers in the ornate grand lobby of the Tennessee Theatre. Complimentary wine will be served, and backstage tours will leave from the lobby every half hour and will highlight the history of the theatre and its restoration in 2005.
At 6 p.m., Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett will present a proclamation to the theatre declaring “Tennessee Theatre Day” in Knox County at a brief ceremony. House organist Bill Snyder will lead guests in singing a birthday tune on the Mighty Wurlitzer organ, along with the playing of the iconic Tennessee Waltz.
“This has been a special year for us, culminating in this milestone anniversary,” Cervone said. “This theatre belongs to the Knoxville community, and we want to share this accomplishment with all of our friends and supporters.”
The Tennessee Theatre first opened on Oct. 1, 1928, as a grand movie palace operated by Paramount Pictures. “The Fleet’s In,” starring Clara Bow, was the film shown during opening night. From 1928 to the 1970s, the theatre operated primarily as a movie house. The theatre passed through turbulent years in the late ’70s, closing on two separate occasions after 50 years of operation. In 1982, the theatre was purchased by Dick Broadcasting and converted into a performing arts facility, but it was limited in scope by the constraints of the small stage and an aging facility.
In 1996, the nonprofit Historic Tennessee Theatre Foundation was formed and charged with maintaining and preserving the theatre in perpetuity. Following that charge, the board raised more than $28 million from the community for a complete restoration, and in 2005, the theatre reopened as the region’s leading performing arts center. Since its grand reopening, more than one million guests have experienced entertainment at the Tennessee Theatre.
“The Tennessee Theatre has a long, proud history in Knoxville,” Cervone said. “Thanks to the support of this community, this theatre is experiencing its best years yet, and we look forward to the next 85 years.”
About the Tennessee Theatre
Located in the heart of downtown Knoxville, the Tennessee Theatre opened in 1928 as a movie palace. The Tennessee Theatre is the Official State Theatre of Tennessee and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The Tennessee Theatre is the region’s leading performing arts center with advanced technology, staging and lighting that draws top entertainment to the Knoxville area.
In 2013, the Tennessee Theatre celebrates its 85th anniversary by launching a Sustainability Campaign with the goal of raising $4 million dollars towards preserving and maintaining the theatre without additional annual fundraising.