Monday, January 19, 2009


The Princess Theater first opened in 1926, but the 900 seat Princess was damaged by fire six years later. In 1939, the theater was completely destroyed by a blaze, but was rebuilt within 10 months with an “Art Deco” design with 854 seats, courtesy of Paramount Studios.

During World War II, while the secret city of Oak Ridge was under construction a few miles away, there were three showings a day, each one sold out.

The theater screened its last movie in 1999, when Cecil Johnson, long time operator and lessee of the building, retired. It officially closed in that same year.

Local officials (See the cast of partnerships and directors in the sidebar.) are now joining hands with Hollywood bad guy Muse Watson, to restore and revitalize the theater. The Princess Theater Partnership and the Princess Theater Restoration Committee Board of Directors are determined to return the Princess Theater to its active place in the community, and turn it into a center of cultural excellence! The Princess will provide a stage for live music and theater, to be enjoyed by the entire region, and a facility for arts education programs , and become a regional teleconferencing center that will bring attention and business to the area.

The visionary’s plans include a $1.9 million renovation, which will allow the facility to be managed by the Princess Theater Foundation and the city of Harriman, in cooperation with the Tennessee Technology Center and the Roane County School system. Through educational funding assistance, and the public entertainment programs that will originate there, the Princess Theater can continue to serve the community for years to come.

With the assistance of the Harriman City Mayor, Chris Mason, COMCAST has provided a public access television channel (CH 15) to be used by Roane State students to broadcast local entertainment productions to the area.

Other hopes are that the Tennessee Technology Center will teach theater lighting and stage design, while public schools from around the area may use the building for programs, plays and special events.

It would be an ideal location for weddings, concerts, dance recitals and screenings of classical movies,” Gary Baker has stated. “It's hoped a vibrant Princess Theater will lure restaurants, specialty shops and other new businesses downtown.”

You bet…with the hard work of the Princess Theater Partnerships and its many interested community volunteers, the Princess will soon entertain us again!


FHB said...

Looks cool dude. I hope everything works out. I know it will.

Barry said...

It's been probably around 35 to 40 years since I was in that theater. Only got to go to it when we were in town from Kansas City, Missouri to visit my grandparents. Im glad to see that it will once again be used for the good of the community.

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