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Russell Co., KY, historian pinpoints date of Star Theatre photo

See related: The Strand in Jamestown; The Star in Russell Springs" by Kyle Hadley
Jim Garner research pinpoints date of old photograph of 60 year old Star Theater in Russell Springs at between mid-December, 1949, and mid-February, 1950; gives origin of name of "Mary Agnes Theatre" in Jamestown, KY; and adds comment on famed Lake-Trail Drive-In in Mid-town

From Jim Garner

Russell County historian Jim Garner sent the following information gleaned from old newspapers in Russell County, KY:

Plans for a new theatre in Russell Springs were announced in the April 8, 1948 edition of the Russell County News

The article stated the theatre would "be constructed in the center of the business section, where the old post office [and Blue Grill] stood"and noted that the theatre would be built by Mr. A.V. Luttrell, "owner and manager of the Strand Theatre at Russell Springs... Completion of the new theatre will give Mr. Luttrell two theatres in Russell Springs." The article also revealed the name originally picked, the Russell Theatre, and stated that the Russell "seems very appropriate, in honor of our county and the mineral springs in Russell Springs."

Jamestown's claim to cinematic fame, the Mary Agnes Theatre, opened in late December 1938, and, according to the January 26, 1939 RC News, was named "in honor of Mrs. Agnes Story, wife of Mr. John L. Story, owner of the new theatre."

Although announcement of the building plans was made in the spring of 1948, construction on the new theatre, possibly delayed because of postwar shortages of building materials, didn't start until over a year later. The May 12, 1949 issue of the RC News, in announcing commencement of construction, noted that the building was to be 52 x 103 feet, constructed ofsteel, concrete and brick and would be "strictly modern, with rest rooms, fountains, winter and summer heating and cooling."Report of 'walls going up'

By the latter part of July, the RC News reported that "Walls are going up" and the October 15, 1949 issue of
1949 Russell County News told of arrival of neon marquee

The December 15, 1949 RC News informed readers that "Monday [December 12th] the neon marquee arrived and is being installed" and the February 16, 1950 edition noted that the Luttrells hoped "to open the new Star Theatre next week." (The actual opening was delayed until the end of the month.) However, as the photograph in question shows the marquee installed and bearing the message "Watch for date of grand opening," dates photo to mid-December, 1949, and mid-February, 1950.

Strand did not continue as theater, as had been implied

Although the April 8, 1948 article implied the Strand would continue operation after the new theatre opened, the April 13, 1950 RC News announced that the owner, Mr Luttrell, had informed the News that "work will soon begin on remodeling the [Strand] theatre building for a business house." The last ad for the Strand in the RC News appeared in the March 2, 1950 edition, and almost certainly, the last movie shown, on March 9, 1950, was Border Incident, starring Ricardo Montalban & George Murphy. The last live performance given there was Tempest and Sunshine, presented on March 23 and 24, 1950, by the senior class of the Russell Springs HighSchool.

And, in passing: Mr. and Mrs. A.V. Luttrell also owned and operated the Lake Trail Drive-In Theatre, located on US 127 (now Lakeway Drive) between Russell Springs and Jamestown.

Comments, photos, and anecdotes about the Lake Trail Drive-In Theatre are welcome. Use any Contact/Submit
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This story was posted on 2009-04-25 12:16:42
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