Kentucky Theatre

103 S. Main Street,
Somerset, KY 42501

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Additional Info

Architects: John J. Curtis, Leon K. Frankel

Firms: Frankel and Curtis

Functions: Pharmacy

Previous Names: Gem Theatre, New Sound Cinema

Nearby Theaters

Kentucky Theatre

Right before the Virginia Theatre opened its doors, there were 2 other theatres still in operation in Somerset. There was the Gem Theatre, and the Idle Hour Theatre.

The Gem Theatre was built as the Oddfellows Hall opening in 1890. It became the Gem Theatre in 1907 and became a pretty popular silent era house. It was notable for an exhibitor who worked at the Gem Theatre named Thomas M. Thatcher. Thomas is notable for his letter he wrote to a photoplay company simply named as Kalem for the “Hazards Of Helen” series on August 21, 1915 according to an article from the Vancouver Daily World in Vancouver, British Columbia. The Gem Theatre was closed in 1932.

On September 14, 1937 it reopened as the Kentucky Theatre with George Brent in “The Go-Getter”. Architects Frankel & Curtis out of Lexington, KY were responsible for the redo. It was Closed in November 1982. It reopened as the renamed New Sound Cinema in November 1983, but closed on April 8, 1984.

Contributed by 50sSNIPES

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

50sSNIPES on January 14, 2023 at 1:27 pm

The Gem Theatre opened its doors in 1890 at the Odd Fellows Building, running special events, plays by stocks companies, and vaudeville, but became a movie house in 1907. One of the first managers of the Gem was Bob Hall who also held as a cashier for the nearby Farmers National Bank but would later quickly turn over to Tom Thatcher and Ed Waddle. Thatcher was unparalleled in theater work in Kentucky and Mr. Waddle also serves as a cashier but for the First National Bank. The Gem was once a Nickelodeon at one time.

After closing in 1932, the Gem Theatre stood abandoned until it was replaced by the Kentucky Theatre which opened in 1937 and closed in 1982.

50sSNIPES on May 20, 2023 at 10:05 pm

Information about the Kentucky Theatre as of 1937 goes as follows: The Kentucky Theatre was first managed by Mrs. Adaline Ward Burnett, and was first operated by the Somerset Amusement Company (who also operated the nearby Virginia Theatre at the time as well). The building at the time was owned by the Somerset Lodge #238 I. O. O. F, and the front of the building was remodeled by that organization. More than $37,000 were spent in repairing the building and remodeling the former Gem auditorium. Soft colors of green and orange are the main colors of the interior walls which are Masonite. The Alexander Smith Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s Crestwood carpet covers the floor, and Simplex International projectors featuring RCA wide range high fidelity sound were placed on the booth. All 440 seats were 9-spring fully cushioned. The marquee in the front of the theater is a Navajo design (which is the first of its type in the state’s floors in the entrance) and the hallways were done in concrete (both painted red and black). The ticket booth is built out of tile. Both Bill Reid and Joe Ashurst did the decoration of the theater, while the lumber was furnished by the Fish Lumber Company.

50sSNIPES on May 20, 2023 at 11:17 pm

Exactly a year right after the Kentucky Theatre closed in November 1982, Bill and Ruth Scott (former operators of the Kentucky Theatre before closure; and one member a former computer operator for Crane Company) told the Commonwealth Journal that the theater went through renovation and refurbishing including installations of a new Bose sound system. Scott replied that all kinds of films will be offered, except X-rated films (although some typical X-typical R-rated stuff were shown sometimes). Scott did not disclose a dollar figure for admission prices although he did say prices were vary.

The Kentucky Theatre reopened as the “New Sound Cinema” on November 15, 1983 with “Lazer Blast”. Unfortunately, the Sound Cinema did not do as much business, especially with their two 15 to 18-year-old brothers and 13-year-old sister who assist in running the business at the time of opening. The New Sound Cinema closed on April 8, 1984 with “Strange Brew” and “Romantic Comedy” as a matinee double-feature.

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