Columbia Theatre

500 Broadway Street,
Paducah, KY 42001

Unfavorite 5 people favorited this theater

Showing 1 - 25 of 43 comments

Khnemu on August 20, 2023 at 9:22 am

Just added a couple pictures to the photo section of this page that I took of the outside of the theater last week when I was visiting Paducah.

JackCoursey on July 31, 2022 at 1:04 am

A real beauty and very unique but in desperate need of restoration and upgrading. The official website is now The original architect is W. Earl Gore of Louisville, KY.

mikee2u on June 6, 2015 at 1:12 am

Mark Bass, I to worked for the Keilers and the Columbia, Arcade, South Twin and the forgotten pay parking lot behind where J.C. Penny’s was across the street. I believe we parked the cars and it was $0.35 per hour unless your ticket was validated at select stores for purchases. I worked at concessions and ticket taker at the South Twin. Steve & Jack Keiler were friends.

MarkBass on January 23, 2015 at 3:20 pm

To whom it may concern. My name is Mark Bass. I live in Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX. I was a Movie Projectionist at the Columbia and Arcade Theatres from 1977 – 1983. I also was a Movie Projectionist at the Paducah Drive In, in Lone Oak, during the.Summer of 1983. All of these theatres including The South Twin Drive In, located on Paducah’s South side, were owned by Jack Keiler, a very nice employer in which to work. Mr. Keiler’s father Leo, began the theatre business in Paducah, Ky. During my tenure at Columbia Amusement Co., my much older superiors told me that the Kentucky Theatre owned by the Keiler family, was also an elaborite theatre that riveled the Columbia Theatre in beauty. I was told that The Kentucky Theatre burned, and later the land was cleared for the errection of the downtown J.C. Penny Building. When the Columbia Theatre was “twinned” in the mid 70’s, dozens upon dozens of seats were removed from the back of the downstairs auditorium. This was to make room for a new Concession Stand and new, larger, rest rooms downtairs. Originally, the Columbia was.a vaudeville theatre (yes, the dressing rooms are still underneath the stage). The full-size stage is hidden by the huge Cinemascope shaped movie screen that was.added during the mid 50’s restoration of the Columbia. The advention of TV was hurting movie theatre attendance so badly, that Cinemascope (larger screen) was invented in an effort to bring lost customers back to the theatres. The Columbia originally did not have a Concession Stand. A tiny Concession Stand was added during the mid 50’s restoration. It was located in the .movie posters.viewing area, the area a customer saw once he or she entered the front doors (on the right). If one looks closely to the right, as soon as one enters (via the right entrance doors to the right of the box office, one can still faintly see on the dark paneling, where the letters “Snack Bar” used to be adhered. After turning the balcony into a second theatre, many.strange things were done during the remodel. For example, to light the beautiful red lamps that are concealed in the beautiful gold-guilded filagree above the entire screen in the main auditorium, the Movie Projectionist had to go flip a switch, hidden in a closet, in the Columbia Theatre. Just email me when the day comes, when someone wishes for those hidden red lamps to turn on! Does anyone wonder what the room and closet are for located in the Mezzanine area of the Columbia balcony? The closet was once a Phone Booth, complete with shutting door for privacy. The room off the upstairs Mezzanine, was the “on shift” Columbia Theatre Manager’s Office. There is a brass rail in the Columbia’s balcany (runs the width of the theatre). This rail seperated the “white” people from the “colored” people during the years of segregation. There was also a second Box Office in the alley between the Columbia & Arcade Theatres. This is where “colored” people had to buy their tickets, and they had to climb the highest Columbia fire escape steps to enter what was called the 2nd Balcany (the balcany behind the brass rail.

Landee on April 17, 2014 at 4:14 pm

Please visit for more information as there have been many strides made to restore this art palace. It is very exciting.

stormdog on January 25, 2013 at 7:55 pm

It’s odd since I planned my trips partly by using Cinema Treasures to see where theatres to photograph were located, but somehow I missed the Arcade. I’m afraid if they have done anything to that building, I didn’t notice it and didn’t realize it was there. Sorry.

stormdog on January 23, 2013 at 8:25 pm

I just shot some pictures of the Colombia while I was in town on a photography trip over the Summer. Here’s a link to the first of the set on my Flickr page.

While looking for into on this theatre online, I also found think like to a video interview of a city employee who’s part of a team that may be working to renovate the building.

jsherrod83 on August 23, 2010 at 8:33 pm

My name is Joe i am looking for any information on the Columbia Theater in Paducah KY. My wife and I are making a proposal to the city of Paducah in restoration of the theater. I am looking for pictures of the interior from when it was in full working order. We are looking to restore the theater in full working order and as close to the same as it was on April 18, 1927. I am also looking for anyone who would like to lend a hand in the restoration of the theater. I can be contacted at or 618 841 3129

ChrisB on August 9, 2010 at 6:43 am

Somewhat blurry shot of the Rialto marquee here:

View link

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 26, 2009 at 5:24 am

I think the first line of the introductory paragraph for the page is supposed to read “The Columbia Theatre stands as a testament to America’s love for the movies and theatre in the 1920’s and 1930’s.” It’s part of the text of the PDF Proposal for renovation of the Columbia and Arcade theaters, available at Paducah Main Street. (The PDF is essentially the same content as the web page, but of course you can make the photos a bit bigger.)

I’ve tried to find the year of the Art Moderne renovation but the closest I can come is an item in the June 21, 1952, issue of Boxoffice that said “The Columbia Amusement Company, Paducah, is doing extensive remodeling at its Columbia Theatre.” 1952 seems a bit late for the Skouras-esque swoops and swirls that were apparently appliqued to the original, restrained interior style (which looks Adamesque to my eye.) There might have been an earlier renovation, but if so Boxoffice isn’t telling me about it.

What I have found in Boxoffice is a few references to the Keiler family’s Columbia Amusement Company operating not only the Columbia, the Arcade, and the Kentucky Theatre, but also a house called the Rialto, currently not listed at Cinema Treasures. There was also one reference to an Orpheum Theatre operated by the Keilers at Paducah, but that might have been an aka for the missing Rialto.

MPol on November 25, 2009 at 6:59 pm

Thanks for the latest photo, Lost Memory. It’s heartrending to see such a handsome theatre shut down like that.

MPol on July 27, 2009 at 1:00 am

What a handsome-looking theatre! Are there any photos of the theatre’s interior available, btw? Again, just curious.

larry on June 8, 2009 at 2:34 pm

Very sad to see what happens to many old grand theaters

mollerman on July 22, 2008 at 2:16 am

Thanks for your interest in the Barton Pipe Organ.

My email address is:
Phone # 731-587-6345
Mike W. Mount
117 Gardner Rd.
Martin, Tn. 38237-8220

Clayton on May 29, 2008 at 3:20 pm

Hey Mike,

What is the best way to get in contact with you in regards to the Columbia’s organ and the theatre’s history?

mollerman on March 2, 2008 at 10:43 am

The organ chambers are located and the left and right side of the stage and about twenty feet above the stage. This kept the pipe chambers completely isolated from the water. The only thing lost was the console. The relay was in the left(Main) chamber and the contacts inside the chest looked like they were only five years old. The chest leather is perfect, probably due to being only ten years old when it was played last and the chest had not had any air in them in over fifty years. Dan Barton told me years ago that the leather he used was super high quality and he used egg white whipped up to seal the pores in the leather to make them more air tight—this is something that several companies did during this error. Everything that Barton built was very much oversized. If a ½" piece of wood would do, he would use 1 ¼". Dan told me that he only wanted to sell organs that was within a days ride on train from Oskosh but he had got on a boat and was thrown off in Paducah. He said he sure liked to drink and that he sold the two organs here and with the downpayment, had the money to get back home. Must say he was something else! I trained with M. P. Moller and have been a organ builder for thirty eight years. Most of my early work was restoring theater pipe organs in the 70’s and wished that I could have got the Columbia’s owner to have kept the organ in the theater. He wanted no part of it and more than glad to get rid of it. A couple of weeks after I removed it, the owner called me to say he found the super large bass drum in a dressing room along with the hand painted leather covered tom tom. When I went to get them, he showed me a filling cabinet drawer in his office full of black and white photos of the theater taken during the late 20’s and early 30’s. Wonder what became of these photos? They showed some very famous people on stage along with the organ console. Thanks for your interest in this organ. I forgot to mention that the other organ in a Paducah theater went to the landfill and I have the rosewood zylophone which is the only part that survived.

cgcolumbia on February 27, 2008 at 10:55 pm

Interesting Mike. Was the organ parts that you bought protected from the flood (not sure where they were located in the theatre.

mollerman on February 24, 2008 at 3:30 am

I am Mike Mount in Martin, Tn. and I bought the 2manual 5 rank Barton theater pipe organ out of the Columbia Theater in 1983. The organ was installed in 1927 according to signatures in the main pipe chamber(Left side of stage). The organ only played for ten years when the flood wiped out the console and by then the sound movies had taken over. The main chamber had three ranks of pipes and the solo chamber(right side of the stage) had two ranks. I have added this organ to a 3/9 rank Barton organ in my home here in Martin. The ceiling is very beautiful from the attic side. There are many light bulbs that were used to light the ceiling. The owner at the time I bought the organ told me the ceiling had been painted around 1950. The stained glass is still there. The Arcade had a very small cabinet organ made by Barton and it was lost in the flood and never replaced either. The Arcade instrument was about the size of a very large upright piano and sat in a small alcove. If anyone would like to contact me about the above, feel free to do so. Mike

cgcolumbia on November 20, 2007 at 11:55 pm

A new roof is being put on.

ChrisB on November 18, 2007 at 2:43 pm

Nice to see work being done – I hope someone can make a go of it. When my parents and I were there last year, they were pleased to see the renovation taking place downtown; however, they also pointed out that here we were on a beautiful Saturday afternoon and there was hardly anyone around except down by the river…

cgcolumbia on October 5, 2007 at 6:55 pm

Patsy: I don’t think it would be too hard to remove the paint an luckily all the panes are there. I have the BP and the idea and the city now has control over the building (owners wanted $350,000 back when they owned it) Its a mater of getting the funding. Thanks for your interest.