THE DECATUR DAILY
AUGUST 6, 1941
NEW PRINCESS THEATRE WILL OPEN THURSDAY NIGHT REMODELING FINISHED AT $50,000 COST Beautiful Playhouse One of the Finest in Entire South The biggest and most colorful event of its kind Decatur has ever witnessed is in store for Thursday night when the ornately beautiful new Princess Theatre on Second Avenue will be formally opened to the public. Remodeling of the old picture house has just been completed at an approximate cost of $50,000. There coming into its place, almost phoenix-like with the scintillating beauty that is wrought by the magic touch of lavish use of color. The Princess, opened and operated by Crescent Amusement Company of Nashville, is one of the 175 motion picture theatres in three states in the Crescent group. Tony Sudekum, one of the country’s best known owners and exhibitors, is President of the Crescent Amusement Company which also operates the Roxy and Capitol Theatres in Decatur. The doors will swing open at 6:30 Thursday evening. The feature picture of the evening is “Tom, Dick and Harry,” given raves by Walter Winchell recently and in which is starred Ginger Rogers, winner of the Academy Award for her superb work in “Kitty Foyle.” Exercises Set At 7:30 tomorrow night formal exercises will take place on the stage with Marvin Rankin master of ceremonies. The program is to open with invocation by a prominent local minister. Officials of the Crescent Amusement Company will be introduced to the audience and the officials will then present the new theatre to Decatur. Officials of the City are next to be introduced by the master of ceremonies and they will accept the beautiful theatre. Introductions of the heads of civic organizations, The Kiwanis, Rotary, Civitan, Lions, Elks, Chamber of Commerce, American Legion, The Legion Auxiliary, Women’s Chamber of Commerce and other groups will follow. Actual remodeling of the house began last January 20, but work tearing out the rear part of the stage was started in December. Delays were occasioned due to the difficulty in obtaining some materials, such as structural steel, but despite this fact good progress was made. The new house in no way resembles the old, and in fact no one, now would recognize the slightest detail that is remindful of the old theatre.
Local Boys Shine A.R. Frahn, Decatur architect, designed the building and drew all the plans. Elton Reeves of W.S. Reeves and Son, Decatur contractors, was in charge of construction. These two local boys, both of whom were born here, wrought splendidly and superbly and as a result of their painstaking labor now have standing a glittering monument to their ability, there cleverness and knowledge. Tony Sudekum, the Crescent president, is certainly not a subscriber to the theory that “an expert is anyone from out of town.” When the present playhouse was still in the talking stage, he let it be known if plans to remodel the old building went through, local people would build it and in so far as possible local material would be used. As a result of this firmness on the part of Mr. Sudekum Decatur can truthfully say and with pride that the new Princess Theatre is its very own. At the peak of the work more than 40 local men were employed. PRAISES PRINCESS C.R. McCowan, Crescent general manager, said of the picture house “We do not have a theatre in our future operations that will compare with the arrangement for comfort, style, and restful atmosphere of the Princess.” With a seating capacity of more than a 1,000, there are 700 seats in the main auditorium and 350 in the balcony part of which is set aside for negro patrons. Interior side walls are of acoustical plaster for perfect sound treatment and the ceiling is of special key joint acoustical board. The floor in the main auditorium is concrete supported on steel joists. The decorative scheme on the floor is soft blue, gray and burgundy, highlighted in shadow designs which are all blended perfectly through the special lighting arrangement. This lighting is a combination of neon tubing and fluorescent lamps. The two bring out the colors in their shade. The special item of the lighting effects is emphasized by black lighting. Use of this new form of theatre illumination gives the carpeting in the spacious standee promenade and in the four aisle paralleling the seats is a mystic glow as though it were illuminated from underneath. Carpets are in a special design which is impregnated with fluorescent dyes. The colors are rose, blue, gold, tan and black. The black lighting equipment also illumines a special design on the side wall panels, representing music, comedy and drama. Fluorescent paints were used in the panel designs.
New Type Seats The seats are in the latest type in floating comfort, fully upholstered, affording the restful relaxation of an easy chair. Seats are arranged in a “stagger’ system in the center section, permitting a perfect view of the stage and screen with no obstruction from those seated in front. This arrangement allows the use of “love seats” or double-width chairs on every other row on each aisle. The two side sections on the main floor are seated with the same chairs in the regular manner and in each section of the house all chairs permit a perfect view of the screen. Complete rearrangement of the stage included equipment with every item necessary for the presentation of pictures and stage performances. Eighteen feet were cut from the old stage allowing room at the front of the house for an additional four rows of seats and also more room between the rows. The new seats are 34 inches from back to back while the old ones ranged from 28 to 30 inches. Blue rayon plush was used in the front curtain and valance, immediately back of which are two sets of damask borders and legs. The screen curtain is made of diamond cloth and is operated by remote from the projection booth. This feature insures the proper presentation of the picture program. Also a part of the stage equipment are proper lighting and effect machines located on the stage back of the screen for the speaker bank for the sound equipment. These speakers will cover perfectly without distortion from the highest to the lowest frequencies of sound. Lounge New Item A mezzanine lounge, 18 feet wide and 54 feet long provides every comfort and convenience. Main floor walls and those of the mezzanine lounge are finished in genuine imported veneer woods. Upper sections are in prima vera which comes from South America and the lower sections in lace wood from Mexico. The office of the manager is on the mezzanine floor. Lobby doors and all trim work are natural finished maples with the front lobby of structural glass with round panels. The ticket office is of glass blocks lighted with neon colors. Main floor restrooms for ladies and men are at the south side of the foyer with a drinking fountain is to the north side. Two staircases softly carpeted with the same material and design as the floor covering on the main floor lead from the foyer to the mezzanine lounge and balcony whose carpets are also identical with that in the main auditorium. An outside stairway also leads to the balcony.
At the front of the brilliantly glittering marquee and name sign are among the largest in this part of the country. Underneath, the marquee is to be lighted with daylight white in in 1,200 feet of neon tubing and including the sign there will be a total of 3,800 feet of tubing in six colors, namely red, blue, green, white, gold and yellow. Over the marquee the field is of ivory stucco with black and yellow structural glass feature strip and blue mirrors on each pylon. Of fire proof construction, the projection booth is equipped with the most modern and latest type of projection dates insuring perfect pictures together with the newest of wide range sound equipment. Every type of up to date machinery has been installed so as to present properly the very best in motion pictures. Moving of the heating plant from the front to the building’s rear in the remodeling added an extra factor of safety. Crescent officials said the air conditioning system (washed air) was the best that could be bought. Comfort, convenience, and efficiency of arrangement, these will make an impression on those attending the theatre tomorrow night. But they are taken more or less for granted. Those who have already been privileged to view the architectural and decorative work of art believe the most profound and lasting impression that will be made on all is the sheer beauty of the place. For, in every respect, the Princess is truly a theatre beautiful.