Grand Opening- Roxy Theatre -Thursday September 15, 1949
Ground was broken in September of 1948 for the building of the Roxy Theatre on Jackson Street in downtown Russellville, Alabama with an estimated cost of $200,000. The Rockwood Amusement Company of Nashville commissioned Daniel Construction Company to start the project. Local union laborers were employed for the many construction jobs needed to complete the Roxy. The theatre was planned to seat 825 people. A block veneer finish was planned for the outside with a streamlined front and inside. The lobby held a concession area for a popcorn machine and candy. A soundproof "Crying Room" was built to the left of the inner lobby for mothers to take their babies while still being able to view the movie screen. The inside of the theatre had a modern tone to the architecture with a tinge of Egyptian design. Soft rose, neon lighting was placed along the walls. The color scheme was rose and beige with a touch of gold and blue pattern on a rose background. Four sets of draperies with a mingled color scheme hung from the stage. The theatre was heated with a hot water heating system in the winter and cooled with air conditioning in the summer. The theatre sat on Jackson Street facing the Baptist Church and Hayes Auto Parts.
first Movies Shown at Roxy
The September 15, 1949 opening movie was a comedy called "My Dear Secretary" starring Laraine Day, Kirk Douglas, Keenan Wynn, and Helen Walker with appearances by Rudy Vallee. This movie was to run on Thursday and Friday. On Saturday, September 17, "Strawberry Roan" starring Gene Autry and Jack Holt was shown. A new serial called Batman and Robin was to play as as a Three Stooges comedy. On Sunday and Monday, September 18 and 19, "Edward ,My Son" starring Spencer Tracy and Deborah Kerr was shown. Walt Disney's "Pluto Purchase" was also shown.
Other Theatres in Russellville History
The Roxy was not the first theatre in Russellville. The first theatre appeared in Russellville in 1892. It was formed by a cooperative group called the Farmers Alliance. The theatre or hall was between Lawrence and Franklin Street on the east side of Carroll Street. In 1906, an Opera House opened for traveling vaudeville acts and movies. A movie was shown each weekday night until a theatre was opened on the east side of Jackson Street in downtown Russellville. The Lyric Theatre was built and owned by the same company as the Roxy, The Rockwood Amusement Company. At one time, Russellville had three movie theatres operating. Near-by Phil Campbell and Red Bay also have had movie theatres in operation in Franklin County. Russellville has the King Drive- In operating today as a local movie venue.
The marquee and leaky roof were the first issues to be addressed as restoration efforts began in 1987 by the Franklin County Arts and Humanities Council. The building had been previously owned by local businessman Buddy Rogers. Rogers donated the building to the group and efforts were begun to bring the building back to its former glory.
Links to Archived newspaper Articles
July 12, 1988- Times Daily-"Help for Roxy"