The Roxy Theater in downtown Franklin is an fine example of what the city of Russellville and all of Logan County could have if there was just a financial interest in making it happen.
The theater in Simpson County, which originally opened in downtown Franklin during the summer of 1938, is now showing classic movies on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays for $5 a ticket. Some of the movies they have and are featuring include: Wizard of Oz, Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Steel Magnolias, The Goonies, The Notebook, Smokey and the Bandit, Babe, The Big Lebowski and The Hunger Games.
After it’s opening in 1938, for the next two decades the Roxy was operated as a movie theater with over 800 seats. By the mid 1960s the Roxy Theater building entered into the second stage of it’s life when it was converted into municipal office space. Now, over seventy years after it originally opened, the Old Roxy is once again entering into a new and exciting stage of life. Currently the old theater portion of the Roxy of Franklin has reopened as an event center hosting everything from concerts to wedding receptions to business functions.
The theater is privately owned and when the movies are not running, the space if offered to rent, which also brings in added revenue. The owners also provide hot dogs of all kinds during the films, as well as chicken fingers, onion rings, sweet potato fries and regular french fries.
Main Street Russellville, an organization funded by the city of Russellville, has been trying for years to get the old theater, located on East Fourth Street in Russellville up and running. Main Street Director Darlene Gooch has made it her mission to get the theater open to the public since beginning work for Main Street eight years ago. Showing classic movies is one of the many things Gooch would like to see the Russellville theater provide, along with live productions.
The theater began a renovation process years ago. Main Street even received a $100,000 grant from the state, which helped get the lobby of the theater done, as well as a kitchen and restrooms. It is the main area, the theater itself, that needs to be finished now, unfortunately it’s going to take approximately $800,000 to get it done.
Gooch and other Main Street members have been diligently trying to find the money to finish off the theater. They have talked with many other people involved in reno0vation projects, but have come up short. Main Street hosts fundraisers to try and get the money and will continue to, but the need is much larger than what they can collect in a short time.
“The money is just not there like it used to be for historic projects,” said Gooch, who dose not intend to stop trying. “We have got so much talent around this community. I would love to have something similar to the Roxy here. People are always saying we need something local, if we had something similar to the Roxy we could offer it all the time.”
The Russellville theater opened in 1948. It burned down, but was rebuilt. There was another theater called the Dixie across the street, but it burned down as well, said Gooch.
Over the years, different people owned the theater and showed movies. It went out of business in the 1980s and was purchased by the city in the 1990s, believing the historic structure could be significant once again to the community.
The theater’s big room has been gutted and is in need of seating, a stage, dressing rooms, lighting and heating and air conditioning. The walls and floor would need to be done and a projector and screen purchased.
Gooch feels that when finished, the community would be utilizing the space all the time. She says they just need the funds to move forward.
“Anyone can donate, a business or a private investor. I have always said, if I can get someone to fund the completion of the theater, we will even name it after them,” said Gooch.
If you are interested in donating funds to help open the theater in Russellville, please contact Ms. Gooch at 270-726-1303 or if you would like to mail in a contribution you can send it to Main Street Russellville, 164 East 4th Street, Russellville, Ky. 42276.