In 1926, W. W. Runyan opened a new theatre on Main street in the building now housing the Botanicals Florists and Gifts, (before that the Marion Cafe). He named his new theatre "The Kentucky Theatre."
The Kentucky Theatre will be quite an addition to the business section of Marion. Everyone is looking forward to it's opening with one of Harold Bell Wright's pictures as the feature attraction. The title of the picture is "A Son of His Father." from the Crittenden Press.
In Sept. of 1926, the owner of the building the theatre was located in, Mr. J. H. Orme, was returning to Marion and wanted to re-open his Drug Store in it, so the theatre had to be moved across the street into a building owned by Mary Carmeron.
In 1936, W. E. Horsefiled of Morganfield purchased the Kentucky theatre from Mrs. W. W. Runayn.
In May of 1940, C. W. Grady saw the need of a new building to house this popular attraction and he started making plans to begin construction of a new theatre building. It was to be located on the lot adjacent to the present building housing the theatre.
In December of 1940 the new Kentucky Theatre had its grand opening. Modern in all respects, the building was the outstanding structure in the western portion of the state.
This newly constructed theatre didn't get to stay new for long as in December 1943 this beautiful new facility was struck by another of Marion's disastrous fires. The theatre was totally destroyed by a fire of unknown origin. (as far as I know there isn't any picture of this building from 1940).
The Kentucky Theater was built back within a year and was again showing movies in Oct. of 1944. The large neon sign that hung above the entrance was the largest sign of its kind in Marion. The seating capacity was 484 and on Saturday nights it would be standing room only. Mr. Harry Gass now was owner and operator of the theater.
There were two showings of the movie and both showings the theater would be packed. The line to purchase a ticket would reach the end of the block in front of Farmers Bank. The ushers would have a hard time holding the second group of people back until the theater could be emptied of its first group of views.
TV's, movies on videotape and the allure of going to a bigger town to see a move, all probably hurt our hometown theater and by the late 1970's it wasn't being used as it once was.
It had to close it's swinging glass doors in 1978 due to lack, of businesses. Two of the big attractions shows that last year were "Star Wars" and "Grease."
The theater building went on sale in Dec. 1980, and Larry Orr purchased the building in May of 1982. The building was renovated and redesigned and it's unrecognizable as we remember it.
When the Kentucky Theater closed its doors Marion lost a great piece of its hometown history and we lost an old childhood friend.