Our Story - Franklin-Theatre

Our Story

Our enduring romance with the Franklin Theatre began in the summer of 1937 when the marquee first illuminated Main Street, invited Middle Tennesseans to buy a ticket – and laugh, cry and dream. Inside the theater walls, moviegoers enjoyed fresh popcorn, afternoon matinees and first kisses. They walked away with a lifetime of memories.

Over the next 70 years, the world changed a lot – but the Franklin Theatre stood as a testament to a simpler way of life. But time eventually took its toll on the venerable movie house, and the doors closed in 2007 under the pressing of rising rents and the trend toward mega-theaters.

Enter the Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County. Rather than lose the heart of Main Street, the nonprofit preservation group stepped in to buy and rehabilitate the historic landmark. After three years of work – and an investment of more than $8 million – the historic Franklin Theatre re-emerged better than ever.

The new Franklin Theatre continues the cherished tradition of showing movies, but also adds a new dimension to Main Street – live music. With a state-of-the-art sound and lighting system, and undeniable charm, the Franklin Theatre is destined to be an entertainment and cultural icon for years to come.

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Previous Performers

Through our over 80 year history, the Franklin Theatre has played host to many distinguished guest performers. Take a look at some of the performers who have graced our stage!

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Our History

1937

The Franklin Theatre opens on Main Street with the film Night Must Fall, starring Robert Montgomery and Rosalind Russell. Admission is 10 cents for children and 25 cents for adults.

1938

The Franklin Theatre becomes the community’s first air-conditioned building and houses the first public restrooms – making it a welcome respite for ladies doing their weekly shopping.

1940

Franklin’s aldermen vote 5-2 in favor of showing Sunday movies, with theater manager Herbert Bowen (a well-known stickler for the rules) promising not to operate during church hours.

1970

The Franklin Theatre’s marquee is taken down and replaced with a “modern” façade, and its name is changed to the Franklin Cinema.

2004

Friday Night Lights, starring Williamson County resident Tim McGraw, has its world premiere at the Franklin Cinema.

2005

Elizabethtown, starring Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst, has its world premiere at the Franklin Cinema.

2007

Despite much community support, the Franklin Cinema closes its doors and shows its last films: Charlotte’s Web and Night at the Museum.

2008

The Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County launches the Save the Franklin Theatre campaign and begins fundraising and planning to restore the historic landmark.

2011

The Franklin Theatre reopens in grand fashion on June 3 and immediately becomes the heartbeat of a thriving Main Street.

2012

Hosting over 500 events, a new reputation emerges for presenting award winning music talent, extraordinary live theater and as a resource for charitable causes.

Leed Certified

The Franklin Theatre is the community’s first LEED-certified historic restoration project. LEED, short for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an internationally recognized certification system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED is aimed at improving building performance in the areas that matter most – energy savings, water efficiency, and reduced CO2 emissions.