KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Theatre may be turning 93 years old Friday, but it is still as beautiful as the day it first opened its doors.
On that day in 1928, there were shows available every two hours from 1 p.m. through 9 p.m. and historians estimated that 10,000 people visited the theatre on its first day. It cost adults 40 cents for a matinee showing and only 10 cents for children. Evening showings were only 60 cents for adults and 15 cents for children.
When it first opened, the theatre was said to be a "motion picture palace." It had been designed by a firm in Chicago while designers were focused on Moorish Revival, with several other influences on the theatre's extravagant architecture.
Usually, the theatre would debut two new movies per week. Most of them showed for just three nights each. Movies were also followed by a vaudeville show which usually included a singer or a musician, but could also include magicians, acrobats, comedians, psychics or animal acts.
One of the theatre's most popular shows was "Ziegfeld's Follies," which featured 100 performers and was headed by singer, dancer and comedian Fannie Brice. It included a variety of comedy and music, and was called "The Biggest Attraction Ever Beheld in Knoxville."
In 1938 the theatre also showed Snow White. It ran for a whole week, unprecedented at the time, and around 70,000 people saw the movie.
In the years that followed, the Tennessee Theatre would host major directors like Frank Capra, singles like Johnny Cash and hosted several other major events.
Happy birthday to the Tennessee Theatre!