02 Jul 2014

Lights! Camera! Action! Hopkinsville Goes to the Show

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IMG_2057Since its earliest days, Hopkinsville has offered its citizens venues for entertainment. This exhibit celebrates the dawn of the golden age of movies in this community. From the first “moving picture show” at Holland’s Opera House in 1905, to the introduction of “talkies” at the Princess Theater in 1928, to the drive-in theaters of the 1950s and 1960s, local theaters have provided us with entertainment for more than a century.

Before moving picture shows, the city gathered at theaters for dramatic performances, musical selections, and orations. Mozart Hall on Virginia Street, Union Tabernacle on West 7th Street, and Holland’s Opera House on Main Street offered a stage for these performances. Be transported back in time with examples of formal attire that would have been worn to the theater in the 1880s. The hand-appliqued flowers and lace of a two-piece ladies ensemble and the dapper wool suit of a local businessman are on display.

In its heyday, Hopkinsville boasted four theaters: Holland’s Opera House, Princess Theater, Rex Theater, and Alhambra Theatre.

IMG_2053For more than 30 years, R.H. “Uncle Dick” Holland owned and operated Holland’s Opera House. The third-story, 700-seat auditorium IMG_2047opened September 19, 1882 and featured orators, musicians, famous theatrical names, and home talent shows. Edgar Cayce, the world-renowned psychic and clairvoyant, was hypnotized on the stage at Holland’s in March 1901. The stage performances and entertainment came to a close around 1916.

The Princess Theater was Hopkinsville’s first theater dedicated solely to moving pictures. Located on the south side East Ninth Street between Main and Virginia streets, the 600-seat theater opened on November 27, 1911 with the original name of the Photoplay Palace. The Princess closed and reopened a number of times between its first movie in 1911 to its last in 1972. Following a destructive fire in 1942, the structure was rebuilt with the Art Deco facade that graces East Ninth Street to this day.rexandprincesstheaters033

Directly across Ninth Street stands the former Rex Theater where Blue Streak Printers is today. It opened on November 28, 1912 with the first movie “In Old Tennessee.” After an eight year closing, the theater re-opened in 1937 as the Kentucky Theater. The facility showed its last movie on October 13, 1956.

In 1928, our last historic theater opened in the newly-constructed City-County building on Main Street. Named for a Spanish palace, the Alhambra Theatre served as both a stage and movie theater through the 1970s when the movie equipment was removed. Our exhibit features architectural remnants from the theater including the restored ticket booth that stood on Main Street. Thanks to major efforts by the Pennyroyal Arts Council, the theater is once again showing classic movies with the most up-to-date movie technology. Check out their latest schedule of live performances and movies!

The exhibit also includes images and information about the Airdome, Hopkinsville’s first outdoor theater, and the community’s drive-ins from the 1940s-1970s.

Stop by the Pennyroyal Area Museum to share your movie memories. Enjoy the show!

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