|Kentucky Theatre Marquee - Lexington, Ky.|
|Shelves of Letters for the Marquee at the|
Kentucky Theatre - Lexington, Ky.
The ceiling originally featured a massive stained glass dome which was complimented with back-lighting that changed with the 'mood' of the film. To the best of anyone's recollection, the stained glass was removed because the promoters of The Sound of Music thought that the glass dome had an adverse effect on acoustics. The Kentucky was designed for motion pictures and even was capable of showing the new "talkies"; the theatre was one of the first fifty theaters in America to feature sound. All these special effects, all in 1922.
|Interior of the Kentucky Theatre - Lexington, Ky.|
In 1987, a neighboring restaurant experienced a fire that caused significant damage to the Kentucky. Through a dedicated group of patrons and local leaders, the Kentucky would not remain closed. A grand reopening in 1992 revealed a beautifully restored theatre that continues to receive updates. A major renovation is planned in conjunction with the theatre's 90th anniversary. This will be coupled with the complete restoration and reinstallation of the Kentucky's Mighty Wurlitzer organ that first played there when the theatre opened in 1922.
Lexington in 1922, however, had its own skeletons. In particular, Lexington shares that southern sin of segregation. Since it opened, the Kentucky Theatre has had a single level and thus no feasible method for separating blacks from whites. This was not a progressive step; it was a design intended to prevent the attendance by blacks at films shown at the Kentucky. When the Kentucky's smaller sister theatre was opened next door in 1929, it featured a balcony which allowed Lexington's black community to appreciate the 'old Spanish' architectural style of the State Theatre.
Of course, times have changed through the years. Fortunately, segregation has ended. The balcony has been removed from the State Theatre.
In time, the seating capacity of the Kentucky srunk from 1,108 to 805. The stalwart manager, Fred Mills, has worked at the theaters since 1963. And the ever-popular Rocky Horror Picture Show is often a sellout at recent history's highest grossing theater for the film. The theaters have served also as the site for weddings and funerals, for political debates, and the weekly Woodsongs Old Time Radio Hour.
The Bluegrass Trust for Historic Preservation hosts a monthly deTour for young professionals (and the young-at-heart). The group meets on the first Wednesday of each month. Our September gathering will be at the University of Kentucky's Spindletop Hall on Ironworks Pike. Join us there at 6:30 p.m.; learn more details on Facebook! You can see Kaintuckeean write-ups on previous deTours by clicking here.