Saturday, February 9, 2008

History of Nashville - Belcourt Theatre

The Ryman isn't the only former Opry venue in town you can visit...

The Belcourt Theatre has been an entertainment venue in Nashville's Hillsboro Village since 1925. Over the years it has been home for some of the city's best and most unusual performing arts.

Originally known as the Hillsboro Theatre, it began as a silent movie house. As the community grew, the Belcourt became home to more diverse forms of entertainment. The Children's Theatre of Nashville, the longest running children's theatre of its kind, shared the Belcourt stage during the 1930's.

The Grand Ole Opry, still nearly a decade away from finding a home at the Ryman Auditorium, called the Belcourt home from 1934 to 1936. It was while at the Belcourt that the Opry incorporated much of the format still in use by the radio program to this day, such as using two separate audiences.

By 1937 the Belcourt was known as the Nashville Community Playhouse and continued to be home to both film and live theatre. By 1966 it had returned to its orginal use as a movie theatre, and was known as Belcourt Cinema.

The Belcourt flourished as a movie theatre for several decades, but by 1993 it had become the last traditional neighborhood movie house in Nashville as new multiscreen theatres took over the landscape. By 1999 the Belcourt was forced to close, unable to compete in the modern movie business.

The Belcourt was then leased by a group called Belcourt YES!, a not-for-profit group dedicated to the preservation and successful operation of The Belcourt Theatre in its historical roles as a home for film, theatre and music.

In 2007 the Belcourt was sold for $1.4 million to new owners who are hoping to eventually undertake a multimillion-dollar renovation of the facility. Today the Belcourt is busy with film, music and special events that keeps it at the forefront of the Nashville arts community. (2/9/2008)

Want to read more?
Click here to read more about the history of the Belcourt.
Click here to read about the 2007 sale of the Belcourt.
Click here to see what's up and coming at the Belcourt.

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