Blog Post

Art Deco theater sparkles in downtown Winchester, Tenn.

Sweetums and I made a brief stop in Winchester, Tennessee, on a recent Sunday drive. I had no idea it had such a quaint courthouse square. What I really loved was the historic theater, which is still showing movies.

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A marker about James Winchester, for whom the town was named. (Photo by Wil Elrick/Permission Required)

The town is named for James Winchester, who fought in the American Revolution and the War of 1812 and also served in the state Legislature. During the Civil War, Winchester was occupied at times by Confederate and at times by Union troops. One of the most fascinating pieces of history was etched on a historical marker on the courthouse lawn. Some people claim Tennessee briefly became part of Alabama in the days leading up to the Civil War but others say it was never official. Here’s how it happened, according to the marker:

In this locality, on Feb. 24, 1861, occurred the mass meeting as result of which Franklin County seceded from the State of Tennessee, at the same time petitioning the then Confederate State of Alabama to annex it. The secession of Tennessee June 24, 1861, rendered further action needless.

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Downtown Winchester, Tennessee. (Photo by Wil Elrick/Permission Required)

The theater, built in 1949, has great Art Deco details. Although it was still daylight, the sun had begun to set so we got the full effect of the marquee lights. It was showing current films, “The Meg” and “Christopher Robin.”

The theater was built on the north side of the square after the Rivoli Theater, located on the south side, closed. It was built so that residents could use it as a fallout shelter, as well, according to a Herald Chronicle article. It underwent a renovation in 2009.

I’ll tell the rest of the history using photos. I hope you enjoy them.

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Detailing on the top floor of a really cool old building. (Photo by Wil Elrick/Permission Required)
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Downtown Winchester, Tennessee. (Photo by Wil Elrick/Permission Required)
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The Franklin County Courthouse. (Photo by Wil Elrick/Permission Required)
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Oldham Theater in Winchester, Tennessee. (Photo by Wil Elrick/Permission Required)
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Downtown Winchester, Tennessee. (Photo by Wil Elrick/Permission Required)
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Downtown Winchester, Tennessee. (Photo by Wil Elrick/Permission Required)
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The Franklin County Courthouse. (Photo by Wil Elrick/Permission Required)
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Downtown Winchester, Tennessee. (Photo by Wil Elrick/Permission Required)
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Downtown Winchester, Tennessee. (Photo by Wil Elrick/Permission Required)
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Memorials to three soldiers in downtown Winchester, Tenn. (Photo by Wil Elrick/Permission Required)
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The story of Winchester’s secession from the Union. (Photo by Wil Elrick/Permission Required)

2 thoughts on “Art Deco theater sparkles in downtown Winchester, Tenn.”

  1. Kelly, thank you for this article. The theatre was purchased by my parents in 2000 and passed down to me. Thank you for highlighting the history so well. This is such a well written piece of our communities history.

    Like

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