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NPS Form 10-900 (Oct.

2012)

OMB No. 10024-0018

United States Department of the Interior National Park Service

National Register of Historic Places Registration Form


This form is for use in nominating or requesting determinations for individual properties and districts. See instructions in How to Complete the National Register of Historic Places registration Form (National Register Bulletin 16A). Complete each item by marking x in the appropriate box or by entering the information requested. If an item does not apply to the property being documented, enter N/A for not applicable. For functions, architectural classification, materials, and areas of significance, enter only categories and subcategories from the instructions. Place additional entries and narrative items on continuation sheets (NPS Form 10-900a). Use a typewriter, word processor, or computer, to complete all items.

1. Name of Property historic name The Park Theater

other names/site number 2. Location street & number city or town state 2312 Cedar Street code TN county Carroll code 145 not for publication vicinity zip code 38201

McKenzie

Tennessee

3. State/Federal Agency Certification


As the designated authority under the National Historic Preservation Act, as amended, I hereby certify that this nomination request for determination of eligibility meets the documentation standards for registering properties in the National Register of Historic Places and meets the procedural and professional requirements set for in 36 CFR Part 60. In my opinion, the property meets does not meet the National Register criteria. I recommend that this property be considered significant nationally statewide locally. (See continuation sheet for additional comments.) Signature of certifying official/Title State or Federal agency and bureau In my opinion, the property additional comments.) meets does not meet the National Register criteria. ( See Continuation sheet for Date

State Historic Preservation Officer, Tennessee Historical Commission

Signature of certifying official/Title State or Federal agency and bureau

Date

4. National Park Service Certification


I hereby certify that the property is: entered in the National Register. See continuation sheet determined eligible for the National Register. See continuation sheet determined not eligible for the National Register removed from the National Register. other (explain:) Signature of the Keeper Date of Action

Park Theater
Name of Property

Carroll County, Tennessee


County and State

5. Classification Ownership of Property


(Check as many boxes as apply)

Category of Property
(Check only one box)

Number of Resources within Property


(Do not include previously listed resources in count)

private public-local public-State public-Federal

building(s) district site structure object

Contributing 1

Noncontributing buildings sites structures objects

1 Name of related multiple property listing


(Enter N/A if property is not part of a multiple property listing.)

Total

Number of Contributing resources previously listed in the National Register 0

N/A 6. Function or Use Historic Functions


(Enter categories from instructions)

Current Functions
(Enter categories from instructions)

RECREATION AND CULTURE: Theater

VACANT

7. Description Architectural Classification


(Enter categories from instructions)

Materials
(Enter categories from instructions)

MODERN MOVEMENT: Streamlined Moderne MODERN MOVEMENT: Art Deco

foundation walls roof other

CONCRETE

BRICK ASPHALT

Narrative Description
(Describe the historic and current condition of the property on one or more continuation sheets.)

Park Theater
Name of Property

Carroll County, Tennessee


County and State

8. Statement of Significance Applicable National Register Criteria


(Mark x in one or more boxes for the criteria qualifying the property for National Register listing.)

Areas of Significance
(Enter categories from instructions)

A Property is associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history. B Property is associated with the lives of persons significant in our past. C Property embodies the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction or represents the work of a master, or possesses high artistic values, or represents a significant and distinguishable entity whose components lack individual distinction. D Property has yielded, or is likely to yield, information important in prehistory or history. Criteria Considerations N/A
(Mark x in all boxes that apply.)

ENTERTAINMENT/RECREATION SOCIAL HISTORY ARCHITECTURE

Period of Significance 1941-1962

Significant Dates 1941remodeling of original building for theater

Property is: A owned by a religious institution or used for religious purposes. Significant Person B removed from its original location. C a birthplace or grave Cultural Affiliation D a cemetery. E a reconstructed building, object, or structure. F a commemorative property G less than 50 years of age or achieved significance within the past 50 years. Narrative Statement of Significance
(Explain the significance of the property on one or more continuation sheets.) (complete if Criterion B is marked)

Architect/Builder Architect: Clarence Speight, Speight and Hibbs Contractor: Hubert Owen

9. Major Bibliographical References Bibliography


(Cite the books, articles, and other sources used in preparing this form on one or more continuation sheets.)

Previous documentation on file (NPS): N/A preliminary determination of individual listing (36 CFR 67) has been requested previously listed in the National Register Previously determined eligible by the National Register designated a National Historic Landmark recorded by Historic American Buildings Survey # recorded by Historic American Engineering Record #

Primary location of additional data: State Historic Preservation Office Other State Agency Federal Agency Local Government University Other Name of repository: City of McKenzie; MTSU Center for Historic Preservation

Park Theater
Name of Property

Carroll County, Tennessee


County and State

10. Geographical Data Acreage of Property UTM References


(place additional UTM references on a continuation sheet.)

Less than 1 acre

McKenzie, Tenn. 36088-B5-TF-024

1
Zone Easting Northing

3
Zone Easting Northing

4
See continuation sheet

Verbal Boundary Description


(Describe the boundaries of the property on a continuation sheet.)

Boundary Justification
(Explain why the boundaries were selected on a continuation sheet.)

11. Form Prepared By name/title organization city or town Elizabeth Moore Humphreys, Projects Coordinator; Cassandra Bennett, Graduate Assistant Center for Historic Preservation MTSU Box 80 state Murfreesboro date telephone TN January 23, 2012 615-898-2947 zip code 37132

street & number

Additional Documentation
submit the following items with the completed form:

Continuation Sheets Maps A USGS map (7.5 0r 15 minute series) indicating the propertys location A Sketch map for historic districts and properties having large acreage or numerous resources. Photographs Representative black and white photographs of the property. Additional items
(Check with the SHPO) or FPO for any additional items

Property Owner
(Complete this item at the request of SHPO or FPO.)

name

Industrial Development Board, City of McKenzie Highland Drive, Suite 1500 state TN telephone zip code 38201 McKenzie

street & number city or town

Paperwork Reduction Act Statement: This information is being collected for applications to the National Register of Historic Places to nominate properties for listing or determine eligibility for listing, to list properties, and to amend existing listing. Response to this request is required to obtain a benefit in accordance with the National Historic Preservation Act, as amended (16 U.S.C. 470 et seq.) Estimated Burden Statement: Public reporting burden for this form is estimated to average 18.1 hours per response including time for reviewing instructions, gathering and maintaining data, and completing and reviewing the form. Direct comments regarding this burden estimate or any aspect of this form to the Chief, Administrative Services Division, National Park Service, P. O. Box 37127, Washington, DC 20013-7127; and the Office of Management and Budget, Paperwork Reductions Projects (1024-0018), Washington, DC 20303.

NPS FORM 10-900-A (8-86)

OMB Approval No. 1024-0018

United States Department of the Interior National Park Service

National Register of Historic Places Continuation Sheet


Section number 7 Page 1 Park Theater Carroll County, Tennessee

7. NARRATIVE DESCRIPTION The Park Theater is located on the north corner of Cedar and North Main Streets in McKenzie, Carroll County, Tennessee, facing southwest toward the Downtown Veterans Memorial Park. The Park Theater is in a moderate Art Deco style designed by the architectural firm, Speight and Hibbs of Clarksville, Tennessee. The remodeling began the first week of February 1941 and opened to the public five months later on July 3, 1941. Prior to the remodel, the building functioned as a fifteen car dealership and a wholesale grocer. While the specific date of construction is unknown, it was built sometime after 1910. By 1926, Chevolet Sales and Services operated in the building; in the following years, Lovelace-Farmer Wholesale Grocery did as well.1 The rectangular building measures 995 by 502 and originally sat approximately 600 patrons, had three office spaces on the second floor, and a small southeast corner office on the ground floor. The building is on a concrete slab foundation and has brick exteriors. The southwest facing elevation has a remodeled storefront and replacement marquee; above the marquee, the front wall is finished with vertical brick detailing painted off-white. The storefront and lobby were remodeled c. 2005 but the city is exploring options to restore the structure. The commercial two-part vertical block building faces southwest onto Cedar Street and has two stories, with an elevation of thirty feet.3 The building was originally two storefronts, the fifteen car garage and a small store at the southeast corner of the block. The store has since been incorporated into the main portion of the building. The marquee and windows divide the elevation into two zones. The ground level storefront has been altered and has a concrete/stucco faade that covers the original box office and southeast corner office (see 1944 Sanborn Map).4 The offcentered double doors reflect the 1941 layout which made room for the corner office. The lobby doors have been replaced c. 2005 with metal-framed double doors and new tinted glass. The doors are flanked on either side by two metal-framed display windows. Two similarly constructed transom windows are even with the fixed panes. To the west, a single metal-framed glass door provides access to the second floor offices. A red and white Park Theatre marquee spans the width of the building (50 feet) and overhangs the two-thirds of the sidewalk. The marquee was replaced c. 1990 after a passing truck damaged the original. While not original to the building, it resembles the original marquee seen in historic photographs. It extends out from the building at right angles and then both sides angle inwards until its angles again to run parallel with the faade. The vertical surfaces have a red background, with the most prominent feature being the white THEATRE on the front-most side, with neon
Sanborn Map Company, McKenzie, Carroll County, Tennessee: January 1910, (New York: The Sanborn Map Company, 1910); and Sanborn Map Company, McKenzie, Carroll County, Tennessee: October 1926, (New York: The Sanborn Map Company, 1926). 2 Mark W. Hawks, Floor Plans, Building Renovation: The McKenzie Theater. Design Consultants, Inc. 3 Hawks, Floor Plans. 4 Sanborn Map Company, McKenzie, Carroll County, Tennessee: October 1926 with 1944 Correction (New York: The Sanborn Map Company, 1944).
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NPS FORM 10-900-A (8-86)

OMB Approval No. 1024-0018

United States Department of the Interior National Park Service

National Register of Historic Places Continuation Sheet


Section number 7 Page 2 Park Theater Carroll County, Tennessee

lights that stencil the letters. On either side, PARK is centered above the angled portion of the marquee and centered over attraction panels with space for four lines of text. Three white bars accent the open space and run horizontally. The second story five-bay faade and windows are original to the 1941 remodel and maintain the Art Deco design elements. The bricks are painted an off-white color. With the exception of the windows flanking the center set, all windows are three-light awning windows. The central bay contains set of triple windows with a wide three-light window flanked on either side by a narrower three-light fixed window. The flanking bays each contain a narrow three-light awning window. The structures exterior Art Deco elements are contained to this front elevation; the buildings verticality is emphasized by fluting reminiscent of classical columns that extends from the tops of the windows and ends at the roofline. These details emphasize the buildings modern architectural style against the other early twentieth century structures on its row of commercial buildings. The second-story central bay is slightly recessed from the facade; here the central set of windows is topped with concrete paneling that transitions into corbelled brick columns. On either side of the concrete paneling are round mounting anchors from the original marquee. The brick corbelling and vertical flutes above the left and right window sets draw the eye upward. These windows provide light to the second story office space. Brickwork on the front elevation is laid in American stretcher bond. The brick faade extends above the wall into a parapet, capped with concrete copping. The southeast elevation facing Main Street has a brick elevation laid in American stretcher bond. Concrete stucco, from the storefront, wraps around the first few first; the remainder of the elevation is brick, interrupted only by a second-story three-light awning window toward the front of the structure and double doors near the rear of the elevation. Running the length of the ground floor, six or seven bricked in windows are visible. Concrete coping switches to metal coping feet from the corner and caps the sloping parapet to the rear of the elevation. The rear elevation facing northeast brickwork is laid mostly in American stretcher bond but the presence of numerous bricked in windows, two second-story entryways, and four window sills interrupts the pattern. There are two modern rear entry single doors, one on either end of the elevation and exterior access to the basement. A brick chimney is visible from the back lot. The interior has undergone some remodeling, with the lobby being renovated in c. 2005. The original exterior box office, bathrooms, and concession stand have been removed and replaced with an interior box office, new bathrooms, and a snack bar. In addition, a closet has been added. Entering from the street through the double doors, the entryway slopes up and levels with the rest of the floor. When the theater was segregated, the white balcony was accessed through the lobby. From the lobby, the theater is accessed through original double doors on either side of the snack bar. A clock original to the 1941 theater has been placed above the snack bar.

NPS FORM 10-900-A (8-86)

OMB Approval No. 1024-0018

United States Department of the Interior National Park Service

National Register of Historic Places Continuation Sheet


Section number 7 Page 3 Park Theater Carroll County, Tennessee

The main auditorium, though under renovation, reflects a combination of Art Deco and Streamline Moderne styles in architectural finishing and color scheme present at the 1941 opening. Unlike the exterior, the auditorium has a pronounced Streamline Modern influence as seen in the lighting fixtures, horizontality of lines, and rounded features flanking the stage. The original Art Deco color scheme is seen in the pale green and blue above and below the deep red band that expands horizontally along the sidewalls from the stage to the balcony. The balconys auditorium-facing front railing is painted the same deep red while an additional band on the side walls, lighter in tone, rises from the balcony and makes a rounded right angle to extend to the rear of the auditorium. At opening, it was described in the McKenzie Banner as a Modern interior!finished in a pale green. Though the original aisle carpet is not present, it complemented the green to carry out the color scheme.5 Accent lighting fixtures emphasize the horizontality and rounded corners of the red band and continue the Streamline Modern style. The half-circle fixtures are the same pale green as the topmost parts of the elevation and employ three horizontal bands. These bands extend several feet from the fixture towards the rear of the auditorium, tapering off in a stepped fashion. Each side elevation northwest and southeast has three fixtures; two in the main auditorium and one in the balcony. All upholstery (chairs and carpet) has been removed due to poor condition. The chairs are currently in storage offsite and most are beyond repair; once the renovations are complete, examples of the three different styles will be reinstalled. In addition, the original ceiling tiles have been removed due to their condition, exposing the rafters of the roof and balcony. The original stage, at the northeast end of the theater, is still extant and is painted black. On either side are single door openings that access the backstage area, sound equipment, and exit to the back lot and alley. The stage is narrow, limiting its use to the screening of movies. Historic, possibly original, red and white draw curtains remain intact but the screen is a replacement. The balcony cantilevers out over the main auditorium and is built with wood trusses. It originally sat approximately 200 patrons. The original projection equipment remains intact. The projection room is off-centered, sitting to the west. The southeast section of the balcony was historically segregated for African American patrons a segregated stairwell at the north of this area establishes the perimeter of the section. Prior to renovations, these stairs extended straight down, exited onto Cedar Street, and to south of the original box office. The bottom half of the staircase was removed to make room for a womens restroom in the downstairs lobby area. The segregated restrooms remain intact and are located on the landing between the first and second story. The second story office space is accessed via a street level single-door at the west-most portion of the Cedar Street storefront. The hallway, three offices, two restrooms, and two storage closets sit
5

McKenzie Banner, June 27, 1941, 1.

NPS FORM 10-900-A (8-86)

OMB Approval No. 1024-0018

United States Department of the Interior National Park Service

National Register of Historic Places Continuation Sheet


Section number 7 Page 4 Park Theater Carroll County, Tennessee

between the balcony and lobby. The floors are hardwood and the walls are painted green or tan. The ceilings in the restrooms, closets, and north most portion of the south office slope upward as the balcony increases in height. Although the lobby and original storefront of the theater have been remodeled, the upper part of the exterior and the auditorium retain much of the stylization of the original theater. It retains its integrity of location, setting, feeling, and association.

NPS FORM 10-900-A (8-86)

OMB Approval No. 1024-0018

United States Department of the Interior National Park Service

National Register of Historic Places Continuation Sheet


Section number 8 Page 5 Park Theater Carroll County, Tennessee

8. STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE The Park Theater, established in 1941, is being nominated for the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion A for its local significance in entertainment/recreation and social history and under Criterion C for architecture. From its opening, the theater proved to be significant in the recreational and cultural history of McKenzie, Carroll County, Tennessee. The theater was a center for entertainment in McKenzie and represents the importance of movie theaters in small southern towns during the mid-twentieth century. Its opening in 1941 by the Rockwood Amusement Company follows national shifts in theater ownership and management in the midtwentieth century and parallels trends in the development and distribution of mass media and entertainment. It served a role in the social history of the community, both as a segregated facility and as an information center during World War II. The theater is also locally significant for its Art Deco design by prominent theater architects Speight and Hibbs. Remodeled in 1941, the building represents the early modern period of design in McKenzie. For the 1941 opening, the building underwent extensive renovations and remodeling, transforming the Lovelace-Farmer Wholesale Grocery Companys store into one of the finest show houses in Tennessee outside of the larger cities.6 The period of significance ranges from the theaters opening in 1941 to 1962. HISTORICAL NARRATIVE Rockwood Amusement, Inc. purchased a parcel of land and brick building in downtown McKenzie, at the north corner of Cedar and North Main Street, in March 1940. According to Sanborn maps, the building was constructed sometime between 1910 and 1926 as a 15-car Chevrolet dealership. In 1940 when Rockwood Amusement purchased the site, Lovelace-Farmer & Company occupied the building owned by C. H. and Nannie Bateman; the grocer had operated in McKenzie for twenty years and planned to construct are warehouse near one of the railroads in town.7 The property was owned by a Rockwood company for the next forty years. In 1951, Rockwood Amusements, Inc. underwent a liquidation, which established Kermit C. Stengel as the sole stockholder for $1.00; the company transferred all of the property, in five different cities, to Stengel on November 3.8 Two days later, November 5, Rockwood Theatres, Inc. had been incorporated in Tennessee and purchased all of the recently liquidated property from Stengel for $1.00.9 The Park Theater property in McKenzie, Tennessee was one of these transferred tracts of land. The theater was sold out of Rockwoods ownership on November 26, 1984, when Rockwood Theatres, Inc. transferred this tract of land and the Park There Building to Rayburn A. and Brenda Kaye OBrien

McKenzie Banner, July 4, 1941, page 1. Warranty Deed Filed for Rec. Deed Book 77, Page 1, March 21, 1940; and McKenzie Banner, December 6, 1940, 1; and McKenzie Banner, March 29, 1940, 1. 8 Warranty Deed Filed for Rec. Deed Book 100, Page 323-326, November 3, 1951. 9 Warranty Deed Filed for Rec. Deed Book 100, Page 326-329, November 5, 1951.
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NPS FORM 10-900-A (8-86)

OMB Approval No. 1024-0018

United States Department of the Interior National Park Service

National Register of Historic Places Continuation Sheet


Section number 8 Page 6 Park Theater Carroll County, Tennessee

for $10 despite its appraised value of $31,500.10 The building is now owned by the City of McKenzie Industrial Development Board. The Rockwood Amusement Company and the Opening of the Park Theater Before Rockwood Amusement Company opened the Park Theater, the Old McKenzie Theater rented the ground floor and balcony of the Caledonia Masonic Lodge as early as 1926.11 The McKenzie Theater, at the north end of Broadway Street (no longer extant), had seating for less than 400 moviegoers and advertised in towns as far away as Huntingdon, Carroll County seat sixteen miles away. It was owned by former mayor, Douglas Moore.12 By 1941, McKenzie was the countys largest city, population 1,858, and had the capacity to support a larger theater.13 According to Joe Williams, who worked at both theaters in McKenzie, Rockwood Amusements hired the projectionists, ticket seller, ticket taker, and the popcorn maker (himself) from the Old McKenzie Theater to work at the Park Theater.14 The company likely brought Roy Johnson from Nashville to help transition from the McKenzie Theater to the new Park Theater; Johnson appears in the McKenzie Banner as early as July 1940 announcing an increase in ticket prices and the following month, successfully petitioning the City Council to allow the showing of movies on Sunday.15 Both of these appearances indicate Rockwoods attempt make the McKenzie cinematic atmosphere compatible with company-wide standards. After these adjustments had been made and the Park Theater was well established in the mid-1940s, Ed Clericuzio replaced Johnson.16 The opening of the new Park Theater also follows national trends in theater ownership and management in the mid-twentieth century. Like many theaters during this period, the new theater was owned by a large company, the Rockwood Amusement Company, a member of an exhibitor circuit that operated theaters in five southern states. This was a major shift from the old McKenzie Theater that was under the ownership of local individuals. With this shift, theaters became major business ventures, as the local newspaper described the opening of the Park Theater as the biggest business development in McKenzie for the past decade. It was expected to enhance the towns business district and was to be operated under local management but owned by Rockwood Amusement, a Nashville company. The history of the company is somewhat controversial for its role in a critical Supreme Court case that enforced federal antitrust laws within the film industry. The Rockwood Amusement Company was involved in an antitrust lawsuit filed in 1939 and argued in the United States Supreme Court in
Warranty Deed Filed for Rec. Deed Book 216, Page 208, November 26, 1984. McKenzie Sanborn Maps. 12 McKenzie Banner, December 6, 1940; Personal Interview with Joe F. Williams, McKenzie, TN, December 5, 2011. 13 Charles Spurgeon Johnson, and Lewis Wade Jones, Statistical Atlas of Southern Counties; Listing and Analysis of Socio-Economic Indices of 1104 Southern Counties, (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1941). 14 Personal Interview with Joe F. Williams, McKenzie, TN, December 5, 2011. 15 McKenzie Banner, July 4, 194, 1; and McKenzie Banner, August 30, 1940, 1. 16 Personal Interview with Joe F. Williams, McKenzie, TN, December 5, 2011.
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NPS FORM 10-900-A (8-86)

OMB Approval No. 1024-0018

United States Department of the Interior National Park Service

National Register of Historic Places Continuation Sheet


Section number 8 Page 7 Park Theater Carroll County, Tennessee

1944.17 The case, United States v. Crescent Amusement Co. et al involved seven amusement companies operating in Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee specializing in small town movie theaters.18 These exhibitors were found to be in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 for unreasonably restraining interstate trade and commerce in motion-picture films and to monopolize the exhibition of films in this area. Included in the ruling is coercing or attempting to coerce independent operators into selling out to it. While evidence of this type of coercion has not been found regarding the closing of the Old McKenzie Theater and the opening of the Park Theater, it fits descriptions of the companies actions found in the Mr. Justice William Douglas opinion of the Court.19 Many of these companies were ultimately forced to divest themselves of stock and interest in the other involved exhibitors. This lawsuit was one the first of a series of national antitrust cases challenging the way films were distributed filed at the end of the 1930s that reached the Supreme Court. It laid the legal background for the United States v. Paramount Pictures Supreme Court case, a case seen as critical in the revolutionary changes in the film industry.20 These cases, in addition to drive-in theaters and the growing popularity of TV helped contribute to the industry's decline in later years. Construction of the New Park Theater began during the week of February 7, 1941 and opened its doors for a night showing of Affectingly Yours on Thursday, July 3, 1941. The theater sold its first tickets for twenty-eight cents; the next day, the McKenzie Banner urged its readers to spend the Fourth in the cool and comfort of the New Park Theatre and see Judy Canova, Bob Crosby and his orchestra in Sis Hopkins.21 After its opening, the Park Theater became central to the towns social life; one McKenzie resident, Nola Hobbs, described the weekly trips to the theater as thats what you did as a kid on Saturday afternoons while Robbie Story noted Saturdays being a big day because he was able to get his quarter and went to the theater.22 Whether they lived in town or the outlying area, McKenzie youth were sure to get cleaned up and head to the Park Theater where they purchased a ticket, popcorn, and a coke for under twenty-five cents. The State of Tennessee repealed its blue laws in 1935, allowing local municipalities to show Sunday movies if approved by a majority vote.23 In a five to one vote on August 26, 1940, the McKenzie City Council voted to allow the McKenzie Theater to operate on Sundays. The McKenzie Banner made this announcement in the same article that provided readers with general information regarding the anticipated theater. Arguments to gain City Council approval included, Sunday movies have been showing all around McKenzie but people residing here had to leave town in
17

Michael Conant, Antitrust in the Motion Picture Industry: Economic and Legal Analysis (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1960) 88. 18 These seven companies include: Crescent Amusement Co.; Cumberland Amusement Co.; Lyric Amusement Co., Inc.; Cherokee Amusements, Inc.; Kentucky Amusement Co., Inc.; Muscle Shoals Theaters; and Rockwood Amusement Co. 19 United States v. Crescent Amusement Co. 20 Conant, Antitrust in the Motion Picture Industry,88-90, 107. 21 McKenzie Banner, February 7, 1941; and Advertisement, McKenzie Banner, Friday, July 4, 1941. 22 Personal Interview with Nola Hobbs, McKenzie, TN, December 1, 2011; and Personal Interview with Robbie Story, McKenzie, December 1, 2011. 23 Sunday Closing Regulations, in The 1945 Film Daily Year Book,756.

NPS FORM 10-900-A (8-86)

OMB Approval No. 1024-0018

United States Department of the Interior National Park Service

National Register of Historic Places Continuation Sheet


Section number 8 Page 8 Park Theater Carroll County, Tennessee

order to see them and many of the younger set were going away to other places on Sunday.24 Roy Johnson, theater manager, assured the Council and the public that his schedule of Sunday shows would not interfere with church services. Kenneth Harder, Park Theater employee in the mid-1950s, remembers the theater having an early matinee at two oclock, then being closed at four for church services, and opening around eight oclock for a night show. Because of this arrangement, he does not recall there being any problems between the theater and local churches.25 The Park Theater serves as a place of collective childhood and young-adult experiences for longtime McKenzie residents; most common of these is of Mr. Eddie Clericuzio and his flashlight. Clericuzio managed the theater for Rockwood from the mid-1940s and well into the 1970s. In his time as theater manager, the whole Clericuzio family was involved in theater operations. In the mid-1950s, Marjorie Clericuzio took up and sold tickets while their son, Gabe, could be found on site.26 Once the movie started, Mr. Eddie regularly walked up and down the aisles with his flashlight, ready to shine it on any young moviegoer caught misbehaving. Robert McDonald remembers, A lot of the time, you got to kiss your girlfriend and hed shine his flashlight and cut that stuff out.27 Similarly, being hit with the beam of his flashlight served as a universally understood warning that the next time Mr. Eddie caught you misbehaving, you would be taken outside.28 Even though the Park Theater was built with double-seats, with room for two or a larger individual, Mr. Eddie regularly interrupted any moviegoers who got too cozy. His watchful eye could be avoided at the drive-in theater built between Huntingdon, the county seat, and McKenzie in the 1950s.29 Linda Bolton sums up Mr. Eddies lasting influence on McKenzie through the Park Theater in noting, Mr. Eddie was everybodys parent, to keep you straight.30 While the local manager took care of all substantial operations, the Park Theater employed numerous local kids and students while in operation.31 In the mid-1950s, Kenneth Harder was a junior in high school and worked part-time at the theater; he remembers earning $16 working seven days a week. During the week, the theater opened at five or six for a night showing and on the weekends, he also worked two additional matines. His duties included working at the concession stand and keeping the marquee updated, which required attention every two or three days because of the constant movie rotation. While he worked there, the Park Theater typically showed a new movie on Monday, Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday.32 As one resident remembered, everyone regularly went to the movies so they constantly showed new pictures McKenzie Banner, August 30, 1940, 1. Personal Interview with Kenneth Harder, McKenzie, TN, December 5, 2011. 26 Personal Interview with Nola Hobbs, McKenzie, TN, December 1, 2011; and Personal Interview with Kenneth Harder, McKenzie, TN, December 5, 2011. 27 Personal Interview with Robert McDonald, McKenzie, TN, December 1, 2011. 28 Personal Interview with Jennifer Waldrick, McKenzie, TN, September 29, 2011; Personal Interview with Kenneth Harder, McKenzie, TN, December 5, 2011. 29 Personal Interview with Rosalinda Winston and Robbie Story, McKenzie, TN, December 1, 2011. 30 Personal Interview with Linda Bolton, McKenzie, TN, December 1, 2011. 31 Personal Interview with Nancy Holland, McKenzie, TN, December 1, 2011. 32 Personal Interview with Kenneth Harder, McKenzie, TN, December 5, 2011.
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NPS FORM 10-900-A (8-86)

OMB Approval No. 1024-0018

United States Department of the Interior National Park Service

National Register of Historic Places Continuation Sheet


Section number 8 Page 9 Park Theater Carroll County, Tennessee

none stayed for long.33 Ramona Washburn illustrates this regular attendance; she went to theater and saw every new movie while her husband worked the night shift at the McKenzie Banner.34 World War II In its early years of operation, the Park Theater helped bring World War II to McKenzie through the war-related newsreels. In 1944, war related newsreels made up more than eighty-five percent of all shown to the national audience, with over one hundred million viewers seeing at least one of the biweekly releases.35 McKenzie moviegoers were no exception; community members remember seeing fighting in the trenches and the Bikini Atoll atomic bomb tests through the weekly newsreels.36 World War II made its way to this small east Tennessee town by more than just weekly newsreels; the theater screened movies made by Hollywood studios increasingly producing patriotic and propaganda films who worked under the influence and pressure of the federal Office of War Information and the Production Code Administration.37 While McKenzie residents do not recall the theater specifically engaged in war efforts, like bond drives, the town as a whole did scrap iron drives.38 The cinematic industry consistently emphasized the critical role theaters played in communities nationwide by presenting the viewers with acceptable representations of Americas cultural and political enemies, appropriate social mores, and by being a safe and wholesome place to relax even on Sundays. The 1942 Theater Catalog reflects this sentiment in its dedication; Dedicated to a defense of the Nations Morale through a constant vigilance to adequately maintain our Physical Theatres and the equipment!so that the Entertainment, Instruction, and Mental Relaxation produced by the Studios and by Our Government may be portrayed to the Public with a maximum of effectiveness!FOR THE DURATION!39 Segregation A product of its time and place, the Park Theater has an inherently segregated history. As the McKenzie Banner began publishing articles on the proposed theater and its progress, authors unapologetically note the segregated layout of the future theater. As anticipated, the theaters storefront, from right to left, ultimately had a small office at the corner of Cedar and Main Street, a stairway leading to the negro balcony, double box office next to main entrance built so as to serve both white and colored patrons, double doors to the lobby, and a stairway leading to three second floor offices.40 The segregated stairway, no longer extant, lead to a platform where African Americans had separate bathroom facilities then continued up to a corner third of the balcony. If
Personal Interview with Nola Hobbs, McKenzie, TN, December 1, 2011. Personal Interview with Ramona Washburn, McKenzie, TN, December 1, 2011. 35 Walton C. Ament and Francis S. Harmon, Movies at War: 1944, in The 1945 Film Daily Year Book, 138. 36 Personal Interview with Nola Hobbs, McKenzie, TN, December 1, 2011; and Personal Interview with Robert McDonald, McKenzie, TN, December 1, 2011. 37 Thomas Cripps, Hollywood Goes to War, in Hollywoods High Noon: Movie Making and Society before Television (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1997), 188-205; and James Forsher, Propaganda Wars in The Community of Cinema: How Cinema and Spectacle Transformed the American Downtown (Westport, CN: Praeger Publishers, 2003), 76. 38 Personal Interview with Joe F. Williams, McKenzie, TN, December 5, 2011; and Personal Interview with James Choate, McKenzie, TN, December 5, 2011. 39 Dedication in The Theatre Catalog: 1942, front matter. 40 McKenzie BannerFebruary 14, 1941, 1; and McKenzie Banner, January 31, 1941, 1.
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these patrons wished to buy concessions, they were required to purchase them from the woman selling tickets in the box office rather than inside.41 Kenneth Harder remembers there being a low wall that ran from the bottom of the first seat to the top of the balcony; this wall divided the African American corner from the white portion. Because the dividing wall began at the first seat rather than the front of the balcony, African Americans could use the whole balcony if no white patrons were sitting in the white balcony, which was normally closed until the bottom filled.42 Rosalinda Winston remembers the segregated theater noting, Whites didnt know it but [the balcony was the] best seat. She also recalls President John F. Kennedys 1963 announcement of a bill that would become the 1964 Civil Rights Act as a turning point in McKenzies integration, after which the theater, schools, and businesses desegregated.43 Architecture Clarence Speight, of the Speight and Hibbs architectural firm, directed the design and remodeling of the Park Theater. Both he and the firm specialized in theater design and construction, having designed fifty movie theaters in the south by 1941. In the next twenty years, this number would grow to at least 200 as the firm remodeled or designed movie theaters for some of the largest amusement companies in the state, including the Ruffin Amusement Company of Covington, Cumberland Amusement Company of McMinnville, and the Park Theaters owner, Rockwood Amusements Company of Nashville.44 In 1945, Speight and Hibbs, of Clarksville, Tennessee, were one of three architectural firms listed in The 1945 Film Daily Year Book as operating in Tennessee; the other two were based in Memphis.45 Their renovations transformed a downtown grocer into a minimal Art Deco and Streamlined Moderne movie house that illustrates national trends common in small towns at the end of the Great Depression and prior to the United States entry into World War II. At the end of the 1930s and early 1940s, entrepreneurs often could not afford to construct new buildings, opting to give buildings a practical and artful update that made use of inexpensive, mass-produced and easy-to-install components like brick and glass.46 Like many rural and small town theaters, the Park Theater illustrates the architectural design and cost considerations required of a small town theater while also providing McKenzie theatergoers with the largest and most modernly equipped in any West Tennessee town of McKenzies size.47 In the early stages of the remodel, the McKenzie Banner boasted of the features that would make
Personal Interview with Jennifer Waldrick and Jill Holland, McKenzie, TN, September 29, 2011. Personal Interview with Kenneth Harder, McKenzie, TN, December 5, 2011; and Personal Interview with Robbie Story, McKenzie, TN, December 1, 2011. 43 Personal Interview with Rosalinda Winston, McKenzie, TN, December 1, 2011. 44 Kimberley Murphy, Ritz Theatre and Hoskins Rexall Drug Store No. 2 National Register nomination (1998), 15: and Vicki Smith, Varsity Theater National Register nomination (2010), 12. 45 th Theater Architects, in The 1945 Film Daily Year Book of Motion Pictures, ed. Jack Alicoate, 27 ed. (Fort Lee, NJ: The Film Daily, 1945), 697-699. 46 Richard Longstreth, The Buildings of Main Street: A Guide to American Commercial Architecture, in the Building Watchers Series (Washington, D. C.: Preservation Press, 1987), 49; and David Gebhard, The National Trust Guide to Art Deco in America (New York: Preservation Press OR John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 1996), 9-10. 47 McKenzie Banner, December 6, 1940, 1.
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it a modern plant in every respect. These included a washed air ventilation system, a modern fireproof projection room, modern cushioned seats, and the best sound equipment.48 Even with these modern conveniences, the new theater was estimated to have cost above $30,000.49 With its modern washed air ventilation system and heating plant underneath the stage, the Park Theater could serve as a year round entertainment haven and a place to escape reality, if only for a few hours. Joe Williams, an employee of both theaters in McKenzie and moviegoer, described the washed air as alright, noting that the draft did more cooling than the wash.50 Even though health laws required movie theaters to install and maintain adequate ventilation systems, their owners and managers saw the financial benefits of air conditioning and humidity control. Until the late 1930s and early 1940s, air-conditioning was not widely popular in the residential market; movie theaters, public buildings, and schools were among the few places that conditioned air. As a result, theaters nationwide promoted their healthfully cool interiors and the comfort of airconditioned theaters. Their installation became an integral part of the luxurious movie going experience and contributed to the illusion of perfect order designed by architects and promoted by managers. While movie theaters provided the ideal market for comfort air-conditioning systems, they also transformed theatergoing from a seasonal to a year round activity and served to convince the American public of the benefits and comforts of conditioned air. Through theater attendance, the residential and home market for air-conditioning units expanded, particularly after the Great Depression. By the time the Park Theater was built, 92% of all theaters in the nation had some form of air treatment.51 The Park Theaters original light fixtures, still in place, reflect national ideals for theater interiors in the early 1940s. In the Theatre Catalog, Nashville architect, Joseph W. Holman wrote about the benefits of indirect lighting for the patron saying, a proper lighting scheme for the interior of a theatre should provide a gradual transition from the brilliancy of the marquee to the darkness of the auditorium. He also argues A light source should never be visible to the eyes of patrons in the modern motion picture theatre, because the theaters sell their product in semi-darkness and must maintain the proper atmosphere.52 Architect, Clarence Speight of Speight & Hibbs was aware of these design recommendations and reflected these in the McKenzie Banner newspaper article, stating, soft lights flow from indirect fixtures giving the atmosphere a warm, exotic pleasantry.53 The Park Theater also illustrates the growing concern for fire safety and prevention in its design and construction. As recommended by small town theater architectural specialist in 1942, Paul
48 49 50 51

McKenzie Banner, February 7, 1941, 1; and McKenzie Banner, December 6, 1940, 1. McKenzie Banner, June 27, 1941, 1.

Personal Interview with Joe F. Williams, McKenzie, TN, December 5, 2011. Gail Cooper, Air-Conditioning America: Engineers and the Controlled Environment, 1900-1960 (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998), 80-82, 108, 112. The Homewood Theatre of Birmingham, Alabama boasted Its Cool and Healthfully Cool under their marque. And A Summary of Modern Fronts: Designed in 1941, in The Theatre Catalog: 1942, vol 3 (Philadelphia: Jay Emanuel Publications, Inc., 1942), 209, 212; and Advertisement, McKenzie Banner, July 4, 1941. 52 Joseph W. Holman, The Theatrical Possibilities of Indirect Lighting, in The Theatre Catalog: 1942, 19. 53 McKenzie Banner, July 4, 1941.

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Evans, the Park Theater provided theatergoers with a fireproof projection room, concrete slab flooring, and steel roof girders.54 The theater still has possession of an original fire extinguisher. The auditorium of the Park Theater retains much of its original design seen in the lighting fixtures, Art Deco wall panels, original stage and curtains, and sloped floor. Some original chairs are still intact, but are currently in storage off-site. Although the exterior of the theater has undergone some changes to the lower part, the upper portion that features strong vertical elements is still intact. The City of McKenzie hopes to restore the theater as a community center and an event and office space.

McKenzie Banner, February 7, 1941, 1; McKenzie Banner, February 21, 1941, 1; and Paul K. Evans, Effects that can be Gained with Construction Economies, in The Theatre Catalog: 1942, 141-143.

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9. MAJOR BIBLIOGRAPHICAL REFERENCES Alicoate, Jack, ed. The 1945 Film Daily Year Book of Motion Pictures. 27th ed. Fort Lee, NJ: The Film Daily, 1945. Bolton, Linda. Personal Interview. McKenzie, TN. December 1, 2011. Carter, Clella Mae and Julian Devault. McKenzies History, 1869-1969: Hub of the Tri-counties Carroll, Henry and Weakley. 1969. Choate, James. Personal Interview. McKenzie, TN. December 5, 2011. Conant, Michael. Antitrust in the Motion Picture Industry: Economic and Legal Analysis. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1960. Cooper, Gail. Air-Conditioning America: Engineers and the Controlled Environment, 1900-1960. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998. Cripps, Thomas. Hollywoods High Noon: Movie making and Society before Television. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1997. Hawks, Mark W. Floor Plans, Building Renovation: The McKenzie Theater. Design Consultants, Inc. Forsher, James. The Community of Cinema: How Cinema and Spectacle Transformed the American Downtown. Westport, CN: Praeger Publishers, 2003. Gebhard, David. The National Trust Guide to Art Deco in America. New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 1996. Harder, Kenneth. Personal Interview. McKenzie, TN. December 5, 2011. Hobbs, Nola. Personal Interview. McKenzie, TN. December 1, 2011. Holland, Jill and Jennifer Waldrick. Personal Interview. McKenzie, TN. September 29, 2011. Holland, Nancy. Personal Interview. McKenzie, TN. December 1, 2011. Johnson, Charles Spurgeon, and Lewis Wade Jones. Statistical Atlas of Southern Counties; Listing and Analysis of Socio-Economic Indices of 1104 Southern Counties. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1941.

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Longstreth, Richard. The Buildings of Main Street: A Guide to American Commercial Architecture, in the Building Watchers Series. Washington, D. C.: Preservation Press, 1987. McDonald, Robert. Personal Interview. McKenzie, TN. December 1, 2011. McKenzie Banner. March 29, 1940. McKenzie Banner. August 30, 1940. McKenzie Banner. December 6, 1940. McKenzie Banner. January 31, 1941. McKenzie Banner. February 7, 1941. McKenzie Banner. February 14, 1941. McKenzie Banner. February 21, 1941. McKenzie Banner. June 27, 1941. McKenzie Banner. July 4, 1941. Murphy, Kimberley. Ritz Theatre and Hoskins Rexall Drug Store No. 2 National Register nomination, 1998. Sanborn Map Company. McKenzie, Carroll County, Tennessee: January 1910. New York: The Sanborn Map Company, 1910. Sanborn Map Company. McKenzie, Carroll County, Tennessee: October 1926. New York: The Sanborn Map Company, 1926. Sanborn Map Company. McKenzie, Carroll County, Tennessee: October 1926 with 1944 Correction. New York: The Sanborn Map Company, 1944. Smith, Vicki. Varsity Theater National Register nomination, 2010. Story, Robbie. Personal Interviews. McKenzie, TN. December 1 and 5, 2011. The Theatre Catalog: 1942. Vol. 3. Philadelphia: Jay Emanuel Publications, Inc., 1942.

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United States v. Crescent Amusement Co. et. al. (two cases). Crescent Amusement Co. et. al. v. United States. 323 U.S. 173. 1944. http://bulk.resource.org/courts.gov/c/US/323/323.US.173.17.18.19.html (accessed January 11, 2012). Warranty Deed Filed for Rec. Deed Book 77 Page 1. March 21, 1940. Warranty Deed Filed for Rec. Deed Book 100 Page 323-326. November 3, 1951. Warranty Deed Filed for Rec. Deed Book 100 Page 326-329. November 5, 1951. Warranty Deed Filed for Rec. Deed Book 216 Page 208. November 26, 1984. Washburn, Ramona. Personal Interview. McKenzie, TN. December 1, 2011. Williams, Joe F. Personal Interview. McKenzie, TN. December 5, 2011. Winston, Rosalinda. Personal Interview. McKenzie, TN. December 1, 2011.

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10. GEOGRAPHICAL DATA Verbal Boundary Description The boundaries for the nominated property are shown on the accompanying Gibson County, Tennessee, tax map as parcel number 012L M 001.00. The less than one-acre parcel is bounded on the southwest by Cedar Street, on the southeast by Main Street North, on the northeast by a rear alley, and on the northwest by an adjoining commercial building. Verbal Boundary Justification The nominated boundaries contain all of the acreage currently and historically associated with the property.

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PHOTOGRAPHS Photographs by: Elizabeth Moore Humphreys MTSU Center for Historic Preservation Date: Digital Files: September 2011 Tennessee Historical Commission Nashville, Tennessee