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Tennessee Theatre celebrates 90 year milestone

(WVLT)
Published: Oct. 1, 2018 at 6:22 PM EDT
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In the year 1928, the "iron lung" was invented, and Mickey Mouse made his official debut. That same year, the Tennessee theater opened its doors for the first time on October 1.

Becky Hancock, Executive Director of the Tennessee Theatre, said,

"They just don't make things like this anymore."

Throughout the decades, a lot of changes have taken place, but the theatre still stands as an East Tennessee staple.

Hancock said visitors frequently share stories with staff members about their fond memories from the theatre throughout the years.

"My parents met here on their first date, or I used to come here as a kid and watch Saturday movies, or I saw my favorite concert at this venue," Hancock said. The memories go on and on.

While theatres similar to the Tennessee popped up around the country during the teens and early 1920s, not many still stand.

"Knoxville is lucky in that it has its movie palace from 1928, and it looks exactly the way it did thanks to the renovation we completed back in 2005," Hancock said.

To commemorate the 90th anniversary, Knoxville native and artist John Kelley unveiled his portrait of Dr. Bill Snyder, who has been publicly playing the organ at the theatre since October 18, 1979.

"A funny guy, so beloved, and I think it really comes through in the portrait," Kelley said. "I used to come here as a small child, and it was my favorite thing to do in the world because it's so exciting and glamorous."

As the years go by, the portrait adds to the history that decorates the halls of the Tennessee.

"Back in 1928, the original painters of the walls and ceilings left little signatures little, secret messages and drawings in the walls and the ceilings," Hancock said.

To celebrate the milestone, the theatre is hosting a free event called 'A 1928 Night at the Movies.'

The evening will replicate a night at the movies in 1928, with a series of vintage films and cartoons.

"Almost 14 years later, we get to enjoy this theatre and continue to share it for many more years to come," Hancock said.

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