Loew's Vendome Theatre

615 Church Street,
Nashville, TN 37219

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Loew's Inc.

Architects: Tignal Franklin Cox, John Bailey McElfatrick

Firms: J. B. McElfatrick and Sons

Styles: Moorish

Previous Names: Vendome Theatre

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Loew's Vendome Theatre

The Vendome Theatre was built as an opera house with two balconies and sixteen boxes. The main curtain featured scenes from the Paris Place Vendome. The first performance was October 3, 1887 featuring Emma Abbott in “Il Trovatore”. It was rebuilt in 1901 to the plans of architect Frank Cox.

Loew’s Inc. took over in 1926 providing vaudeville and movies. A Wurlitzer 2 manual 10 ranks organ was installed in March 1926 which was opened by organists Miss Colyar & Mrs. B.T. Sheetz. The last movie was “The Dirty Dozen” seen on the evening of August 8, 1967. Patrons that night reported smelling burning rubber. After the last show a thorough search of the theatre found nothing. Later the janitors discovered the upper balcony ablaze. The ceiling and roof then caught fire and collapsed into the auditorium bringing both balconies to the floor.

The Vendome Theatre’s lobby survived as retail space until 1986.

Contributed by Will Dunklin

Recent comments (view all 73 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 14, 2014 at 12:07 am

The Vendome Theatre was substantially rebuilt in 1901 to the plans of architect Tignal Franklin Cox, who had recently moved his office from New Orleans to Chicago. A photo of the Vendome’s original facade can be seen on page 10 of this PDF file, a short biography of Frank Cox by his great-granddaughter, Robin Yonish.

DavePrice on June 14, 2014 at 7:42 am

Joe: You may be a year off. The Vendome burned Jan 2, 1902 and reopened Sept 12, 1902.

DavePrice on March 26, 2015 at 5:35 pm

This is slightly off topic, but just across the street. There was a man who had a newsstand at the side of Armstrong’s at Church and Capitol Blvd for years. Some time in the fifties he was run off the streets by a bunch of old ladies who were offended that he sold girlie magazines. For a while he moved to a store on Commerce Street but without the foot traffic didn’t last long. Can anyone tell me his name or what became of him?

rivest266 on February 13, 2016 at 12:45 pm

October 3, 1887 grand opening ad in photo section.

rivest266 on February 13, 2016 at 12:48 pm

September 12th, 1902 grand reopening ad also in photo section.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 13, 2016 at 2:09 pm

An advertisement for Nashville’s new Theatre Vendome, then under construction, appeared in a December, 1886, issue of The New York Mirror and listed the architects as J. D. McElfatrick & Sons.

tntim on August 9, 2017 at 10:22 am

The Nashville Tennessean ran a slideshow to commemorate the anniversary of the fire on August 9, 1967. Link

DavePrice on August 9, 2017 at 10:39 am

Thanks for reminding me- hard to believe the fire was fifty years ago. Wait a minute! That must mean I was fifty years younger! Where did all those years go?

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on July 12, 2022 at 7:25 pm

Transcribed from The Nashville Banner, Sunday, March 7, 1926, page 31.

New Pipe Organ at Loew’s Makes Debut Monday

The Wurlitzer pipe organ which has been installed at Loew’s Vendome theater in the record time of nine days will make its debut to Nashville’s motion picture fans Monday. Featuring the first week’s life of the instrument will be a prelude with the orchestra “Prelude in C Sharp Minor” by Sergi (sic) Rachmaninoff. In this prelude the entire organ will be used to give a greater effect. Miss Colyar and Mrs. B. T. Sheetz will be the organists.

While in no way detracting from the orchestra the new instrument at Loew’s will be able to give orchestral effects which are found in few organs. From the ripple of a brook breaking over pebbles in its bed to the thunder and crash of a storm or the roar of guns and cannon the new organ will be capable of playing to a picture—not being content to just “play music” during the run.

The same type organ as has been installed at Loew’s is playing to the crowds at large Eastern and Western houses and the local theater is to be congratulated on this step of increased efficiency.

TheatreOrgan on July 13, 2022 at 5:11 am

Will Dunklin, thank you for posting the information on the Wurlitzer! I enjoyed the update.

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