Sunday, September 27, 2009


Gary Baker, Dr. Ahler, and I took a wet and soggy trip to Maryville Saturday to visit the Palace and Capitol Theaters. The Palace was closed, but posters outside demonstrated the use the theater is getting as a music venue.
We found the Capitol Theatre open with several people visiting their coffee and souvenir shop, milling around the lobby, and many were in the auditorium setting up for a wedding. Gary introduced himself to Benita and Heath Claiborne, owners of the Capitol, and we soon had the 50 cent tour, including the auditorium, the basement, the upstairs interactive video game and lecture room, complete with wide-screen, and Heath’s private artist studio.
Turns out Heath’s family have roots in Harriman. There once was a Claiborne’s Market in Harriman owned by his grandfather who was known locally as “Fats”. Heath comes to Harriman often to visit his roots and visit his family graves up in the old Harriman Cemetery.

He shared with us many important and key items for us to remember as we march forward with our Princess project. We will invite him down soon to discuss more of the lessons learned.
Heath mentioned that he had to replace the marquee on his theater, because the city had once forced it removed for safety reasons. However, Heath successful in getting the city to again allow the marquee, so he had it reproduced and hung, complete with LED lighting at a cost of $60K. No longer is the street dark in that area, because the cheap LED lighting permits the marquee to be lighted 24 hours a day!
The Capitol is a “for-profit” venue, and most of the revenue is from parties, reunions, weddings, live music shows, and local play productions. Of course, there is money coming in from the concessions and souvenirs, and the old balcony area permits movies, X-Box 360, Direct-TV and Pay-Per-View, Computer presentations - all on a 20ft. screen. (Check out their upcoming bookings HERE!)
I tried to capture the way they had tiered the theater auditorium floor, but the whole area is painted black, making it very difficult to photograph. Black makes it difficult for the camera to get readings, and the flash is quickly absorbed and lost. Anyway, all the theater seating has been removed and replaced with 6 to 8 table seating, making it accommodate a crowd of 350 party goers! The tables are brushed stainless (maybe aluminum), as are the two wet-bar stations, and buffet tables. The reflected LED shine on these tables and the red accent curtains makes for a beautiful social venue.

We expect to learn a lot from these “fact finding” jaunts, and it will be beneficial for us to invite the Claiborne’s, Jim Young from Crossville, Len Tucker from the Fox in Atlanta, and our good friends from South Carolina, John Coles and Mark Tiedje, down for a little Q&A.
My lesson learned for the week…don’t paint the inside of a large auditorium BLACK! This terrible for photography and I want to take a lot pictures of the new Princess Theater and at my next reunion party!
There are more venues to visit in a very short time, so there is more to come.
More photos at FLICKR.

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