The Tennessee Theatre

A Grand Entertainment Place

  • Author(s): Neely, Jack
  • Series:
  • Imprint: University of Tennessee Press
  • Publication Date: 2015-01-14
  • Status: Active
  • Available in Hardcover - Cloth: Price $59.95 | Buy Now

One of the most exuberant movie palaces of the South, the Tennesse Theatre is a Jazz Age spectacle, a glimmer of a briefly extravagant era, a bold architectural celebration of an astonishing and suddenly popular new form of art. The motion picture changed the way Americans experienced their world,within its broad region, the Tennesseee became the superlative venue for that experiences.

Despite its reputation as the finest, the most expensive, the theater with chandeliers and original art and antiques in its lobby, the Tennessee was also the largest, the busiest, and the most popular…Exclusiveness is one of the Tennessee’s most effective illusions.

After almost a century, the Tennessee is still obligatory on any trip to Knoxville, one of these sights you have to witness at least at once. Designed with dozens of shapes and countless colors to awe, it is distinct in appearance from every other theater in the world. It’s a complex and fascinating artifact. But the Tennessee is also a practical edifice, a modern venue for classical music, opera, rock, jazz, bluegrass, and dozens of other genres that benefit from the old theater’s excellent acoutiscs, praised in the national media for the quaility of its sound.

“I went to the new Tennessee Theatre tonight. It opened today. It is so much ahead of the other theaters here that one could hardly compare them to it.”- Frank Bachman Fain-October 1, 1928

“. . . we danced out in front lobby looking in all the big mirrors and up at the beautiful chandaeliers pretending we were Betty Grable, June Haver, or whoever we had seen in the movie that day.”–Margaret F. Bacon

“The Tennessee Theatre is one of the best places to play in the country…I can’t tell you was a privilege it is to play in a place like this.”–Lyle Lovett

“a Moorish-revival movie house…recently renovated, and dreamier still: a palace as big as an ocean liner, where sound reveals itself naturally and precisely, in what Wallace Stevens called its ‘spontaneous particulars…'”
-Ben Ratliff-New York Times

“…it’s like watching a show inside a FabergĂ© egg…–Matt Hedrickson, Rolling Stone

“The Tennessee Theatre in Knoxville…[is among] some of the best theaters in the country.”–Elivs Costello