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Mrs. Garnett: Parlor Circle, Tutt's Hall, Rialto, Columbian, Entertained Commun

This article first appeared in issue 18, and was written by Ed Waggener. The full title appeared as: Mrs. Garnett: Parlor Circle, Tutt's Hall, Rialto, Columbian, entertained community the lst half of century.

When Dan Antle was remodelling the building now housing the Durham & Zornes law offices, workmen uncovered a sign which said, "Parlor Circle Theatre." Hardly anyone had given a thought to the theatre in years, but Alta Garnett remembered. There had been a theatre on the second floor of the building. Nell's Grocery was located on the first floor, and Mrs. Garnett remembers buying pop or candy in the grocery and then going up stairs to the picture show. The movies were silent. Drama was added to the events on the screen by the musicians. George Lowe played the coronet, and his wife, Betsy Hancock Lowe, accompanied on the piano, while such stars as Mary Pickford brightened the screen in a melodramatic serial called Pearl White. Mrs. Garnett remembers that she was about three or four years old when she first went to The Parlor Circle.

Mary Pickford started making the first of her 235 or more titles in 1908, so the Parlor Circle must have began business around that time.

Later, the theatre moved to another second story location, over what is now Country Junction, before that the Men's Shop, and before that, The Men's Shop and Hattie Lee Willis' Dress Shop.

The next theatre location was when Bob Wethington opened a theatre in what was known as Tutt's Hall, located what is now J.D. Harper's parking lot behind the Columbian. Mrs. Garnett remembers seeing Kentuckian D.W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation in Tutt's Hall. "I remember that the hall was a barn, and it was pretty rough. They had a mix of seats-benches, chairs, and the like. It wasn't anything fancy." Her father's stagecoach didn't run in front of the theatre on Jefferson Alley, but the alley did extend to the barn behind her house and the stagecoach would come down Jefferson Alley, turn left onto Monroe Street, and then head for Campbellsville.

The next picture show, Mrs. Garnett remembers, was another Bob Wethington enterprise, the Rialto, then the Columbian Theatre in 1947, and, in the 50s ,the Adair Drive-In Theatre by Doc and Lenora Walker. The theatre competed strongly with the downtown theatres, on many occasions outdrawing them. The screen for the outdoor theater came down last year to make way for Barney's Bowling Center.

This story was posted on 1997-12-24 12:01:01
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