Tivoli Theatre (Chattanooga, Tennessee)
|Location||709 Broad Street
|Architectural style||Beaux Arts|
|MPS||Reuben H. Hunt Buildings in Hamilton County TR|
|NRHP Reference #||73001779|
|Added to NRHP||April 11, 1973|
The Tivoli Theatre, also known as the Tivoli, is a historic theatre in Chattanooga, Tennessee, opening on March 19, 1921. Built between 1919 and 1921 at a cost of $750,000, designed by famed Chicago-based architectural firm Rapp and Rapp and well-known Chattanooga architect Reuben H. Hunt, and constructed by the John Parks Company (general contractors), the theatre was one of the first air-conditioned public buildings in the United States. The theatre was named Tivoli after Tivoli, Italy, has cream tiles and beige terra-cotta bricks, has a large red, black, and white marquee with 1,000 chaser lights, and has a large black neon sign that displays TIVOLI with still more chaser lights.
The building seats 1,012 in the orchestra, 48 in upper boxes, 78 in the loge, 312 in the upper balcony, 312 in the lower balcony, and 104 in removable orchestra pit seating. Therefore, the Tivoli can hold more than 1,750 people.
The stage's depth is 44 feet (13 m) and 99 feet (30 m) long. The ornately decorated silver and gold proscenium's width is 47 feet and 8 inches (14.3 meters and 20.3 cm) and is 26 feet (7.9 m) high.
The Tivoli has had two music systems in its lifetime. When the theatre opened in 1921, a Bennett Pipe Organ was used and then replaced in 1924 with a $30,000 Wurlitzer organ. The organ, also known as the Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organ 235 Special, was installed in order to produce live music to accommodate silent films and stage productions. The Mighty Wurlitzer Organ is still playing almost a century later.
Reflecting the Beaux Arts architectural style prevalent in late 19th century and early 20th century America, the theatre contains a high rose-and-gold coffered ceiling, the original box office, a grand lobby with a white terrazzo floor inlaid with forest-green marble and music-motif medallions, crystal chandeliers, an elegant foyer, and red velvet-plush chairs. The Tivoli opened on March 19, 1921 to a concert by the Tivoli Symphony, a screening of Cecil B. DeMille's 1921 film Forbidden Fruit, and a personal appearance by Forbidden Fruit's Mae Murray. The theater served Chattanooga well for several decades as the chief location for stage and film entertainment in Chattanooga, but went into a steady decline as modern movie theaters started to appear in Chattanooga in the 1950's.
The Tivoli was, at one time, owned by ABC and was later leased to Chattanooga as a performing arts facility. The theatre was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in April 1973. The city of Chattanooga purchased the Tivoli in 1976 for $300,000 after the theater had been in disrepair for some years; Chattanooga's Department of Education, Arts, and Culture currently owns and operates the Tivoli.
In 1979, Chattanooga-based Lyndhurst Foundation gave a $25,000 grant to the then-Chattanooga Arts Council, which is now Allied Arts of Greater Chattanooga, for a feasibility study on restoring the Tivoli. Other grants for renovation included $3.5 million given by Tennessee in 1986, $3.2 million raised by a private campaign by Chattanoogans, and $300,000 given by the city government.
After the Tivoli closed on June 5, 1987 for renovations, which were directed by Robert A. Franklin, the Tivoli reopened on March 29, 1989 with a recital by Marilyn Horne. These renovations included new dressing rooms to hold up to 70 performers, and an increase in the stage depth by 14 feet.
Famous movies and shows that have played at the Tivoli
Some famous actors, actresses, movies, and shows that have played at the Tivoli are listed below:
- Louis Armstrong
- Fanny Brice
- Lynn Fontanne
- Helen Hayes
- Marilyn Horne
- Alfred Lunt
- Idiot's Delight
- Mary of Scotland
- The Old Maid
- The Earl Carroll Vanities
- The Greater Marcus Show
- The Ziegfeld Follies
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09.
- Zietz, Karyl Lynn (1996). "Historic Opera Houses in the South". The National Trust Guide to Great Opera Houses in America. New York City, NY: John Wiley and Sons, Inc. pp. 77–78. ISBN 0-471-14421-5. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
- "Tivoli Theatre History". Chattanooga Symphony and Opera. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
- "Tivoli Tech Sheet". City of Chattanooga. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
- "Tivoli Organ History". City of Chattanooga. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
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