Tennessee August 16, 2019
Most People Don’t Know The Oldest Operating Theater Is Right Here In Tennessee
The oldest operating theater in Tennessee may come as a bit of a shock to you, what with the number of small-town stages and massive cities that dot the state’s landscape. Nope, it’s the not the Orpheum, and the Grand Ole Opry doesn’t outdate this incredible theater. Located on the eastern side of the state in beautiful Knoxville, Tennessee, you’ll find a gorgeous jewel of a theater building tucked away downtown. What’s the oldest operating theater in Tennessee? The aptly named Tennessee Theater, of course.
The Tennessee Theatre was built as a movie palace in the heart of historic downtown Knoxville, Tennessee. It's long been considered the first skyscraper in the city.
It's located in a beautiful neighborhood, and has garnered an addition to the National Register of Historic Places. The theater itself was renovated and restored in the early 2000's, and continues to regale locals and tourists alike with all sorts of performances throughout the year.
The once-Burwell Building used to be the location of Blount College, the forerunner to the famed University of Tennessee. After the building's construction by Clay Brown Atkin, it was utilized as the Knoxville Banking & Trust Building. It was completed in 1908, and the theater itself opened on October 1st, 1928.
Originally built with roughly 2,000 seats in the auditorium, the Tennessee Theater has been known as "Knoxville's Grand Entertainment Palace," beautifully designed in the way of Spanish-Moorish style.
As you wander the halls, make sure to notice the French-style chandeliers made with Czech crystals, or perhaps the Italian terrazzo flooring that can be found in the Grand Lobby. The Tennessee Theatre is pure decadence, ensconced with Oriental carpeting and drapery patterns.
The theater was once of the very first public buildings in the city of Knoxville that boasted air conditioning, and it was also the home to multiple movie premiers like James Agee's "All The Way Home" in 1963.
Known as "The Official State Theatre of Tennessee" since 1996, the Tennessee Theatre is an experience well worth the financial indulgence. Make sure to check the event calendar online to buy tickets for upcoming shows. Address: S Gay Street, Knoxville, TN 37931
If you’re looking for more information, you can find it right here on the
Tennessee Theater’s official website.