The Gem Theatre opened its doors in 1910, and seated 685.
A fire in 1934 completely gutted the theatre, and it was rebuilt two years later in Art Deco style, including a new, elegant marquee. The Gem Theatre continued to operate for nearly another half century, before it was closed in 1978. On January 26, 1979 the Cairo Historic District, including the Gem Theater was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Sadly, many of the buildings included in that district have fallen to the wrecking ball in the last 5-10 years.
As you can see from the pictures above, the last 5 years has not been particularly kind to the Gem Theatre. As buildings surrounding it have fallen to the wrecking ball, a giant tree now grows out of the side, bursting through the brick wall of the Gem.
The State Theatre in Kingsport, Tennessee was designed by architect Erle G. Stilwell and built in 1936.
The theater, located at the intersection of Broad and Market Streets has 700 seats and has both screen and stage capabilities. By the mid 1950’s, the State Theatre was remodeled to accommodate more modern tastes and the Cinemascope format. The Mediterranean garden wall was removed, the murals painted over and a permanent screen erected. It was operated by the Wilbey-Kincey chain. By 1976 the city of Kingsport had two indoor shopping mall, including the Terrace Theater that opened with the now demolished Kingsport Mall in 1971. Downtown began drying up as a commercial center as it once was and in 1978 the State Theatre showed its final feature film and closed.
In 2007, the State was purchased by DB3 Development Company, LLC. Prior to that it had been in use as a Christian movie house known as the All American Family Cinema in around 1990 to 1992, a dinner theatre, a nightclub, a gymnasium and had spent the last decade as a cheerleading school.
There were plans to renovate the theater and reopen it but as of this writing, the plans are stalled. In fact as I was taking the photos of this theater a guy from a business next door asked me if I wanted to buy a theater and fast track its remodel.
This theater sits behind the Federal Point shopping Center that currently is home to Maxway and a giant vacant Food Lion store that has been closed since 2006.
Despite the neighboring shopping centers woes and deterioration over the years, this theater hung on and stayed in business until 2010.
Then on June 24 after announcing that they would not renew their lease, Carmike closed this theater for business and it has sat empty ever since.
There are conflicting sources of information about this theater and its origins online. I’ve spent the better part of the afternoon trying to figure out which theater this is of the three that have been in the small town of Neon, Kentucky over the course of its existence.
Im leaning towards this being the theater that was built in 1949 to replace The Bentley that was destroyed by fire in 1944. The architectural features of this building tend to lend itself to that era.
There were hopes as recently as 2012 to restore the theater but no action on those hopes have come to reality yet.
The building most recently served as a combination Army Surplus Store / Video Rental
This theater is located next door to the former post office of Drift, Kentucky that I covered in this blog in the previous entry. The building was completed and the theater opened in 1940. The theater had one screen and 150 seats.