Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Nashville Theaters In The 1950's and 1960's


  Growing up in 1950's and 1960's Nashville provided many memories for me and an important part of my life was going to the movies. Movie theaters were palaces compared to today. They showed one movie at a time. Many times we would arrive late but you could always hang around and catch the part of the movie at the next showing that you missed. There were a few suburban theaters like the Melrose or the Belle Meade theater where my sister Donna took me to see my first indoor movie called Bombers B-52. Belle Meade was built in 1940. It had a wall of fame where just about every Hollywood movie star had signed their photograph at one time or another. In the summertime we usually went to the drive-in's like Warner Park, Bel-Aire, the Skyway, Colonial, Crescent or Montague. I loved Warner Park and Skyway because they had playgrounds.

  The downtown theaters had atmosphere. The Paramount opened on November 14, 1930. During World War ll it had an organ and a organist. If you started walking down Church st. starting at 8th Ave. and staying on the right side of the street, heading east the Paramount would be the 1st theater that you came to. I remember seeing the Longest Day there which was about D-Day. It was released for the 20th anniversary of D-Day and a special section, down front was roped off for D-Day veterans. The Loews was the fanciest of all of the theaters to me. It was originally an opera house which opened on October 3, 1887. It had two balconies and sixteen boxes. Loew's took over the hall in the mid-1920's. There were Vaudeville acts and movies. When I was a kid all of the Walt Disney movies were shown there. Dirty Dozen was the last movie ever shown there. On August 8, 1967 the theater caught fire and was heavily damaged. The lobby was used as retail space until 1986.

  In front of the Loews if you looked straight up Capital Blvd. you could see the Knickerbocker on the left. This is where I spent many of my saturday's watching such B- rated classic horror movies as the H-Man and Frankenstein's daughter. Continuing east down Church you came to the Tennessee theater. It was probably the most spacious and modern theater. It was at 533 Church near Harvey's and Cain-Sloan. The theater opened in 1952 and was demolished in the 1980's. Last but not least there was the old Princess theater that was later changed to the Crescent. I saw many epic movies there like How The West Was Won and John Wayne's the Alamo. This was where my brother Mark acted like he was looking for something on the floor because he didn't want me to know he cried when Davy Crockett died. Black's either had their own theaters or they were allowed to sit in segregated sections of the balconies at the various theaters. Modern day theaters are much more efficient and show more movies but when I was a kid going to the movie was an experience.

1 comment:

  1. Nice piece. You've probably already caught this: Looking up Capitol Blvd from Loew's the Knickerbocker was on the right and extended through to 6th Ave.

    What you remember was the New Princess. The old one was in the next block between 5th and 6th. It was torn down when the new Cain-Sloan was built.