1502 Bardstown Road,
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Previously operated by: Fourth Avenue Amusement Co.
Styles: Colonial Revival
Located in the Schuster Building at the intersection of Eastern Parkway in the Highlands neighborhood, the Uptown Theatre opened on April 8, 1928.
The Uptown Theatre was Louisville, Kentucky’s first theatre to open equipped for showing both silent and sound films.
A single screen theatre, the Uptown Theatre featured a classic proscenium-arch stage, flanked on each side by small faux balconies that masked air circulation vents. As did many theatres of the early sound era, the theatre had an orchestra pit and small backstage dressing rooms for performers who provided entertainment between films.
The Uptown Theatre operated as an independent theatre (not affiliated with any of the national theatre chains of the era) and was operated by locally-owned 4th Avenue Amusements. In its early years, the Uptown Theatre’s slate of films ran the gamut from the first Academy Award winner “Wings” to movies starring the Bowery Boys.
The theatre ran fairly steadily, surviving the height of TV’s popularity in the 1950’s (in 1957, a total of five neighborhood theatres in the Louisville area closed in a single week.) When 4th Avenue Amusements ceased operations in the late-1970’s, the theatre closed and sat idle until the early-1980’s, when it was reopened under the management of Louisvillian Howard Hunter.
Operating under a format similar to Louisville’s Vogue Theatre, the Uptown Theatre ran second run, B-movies and classic films. Howard Hunter was bought out by a local businessman in the late-1980’s and the theatre continued operations until 1989, when a combination of the popularity of cable TV and home video, increased upkeep and operating expenses and managerial missteps lead to the theatre closing for what would be the final time.
A brief attempt was made by the local arts community to purchase the Schuster Building and Uptown Theatre for a proposed film school, but nothing came of the project. The theatre’s auditorium was demolished for parking space in April of 1994. The theatre’s front entrance and lobby area have survived as part of the renovated Schuster Building.
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