Crystal Theatre

31 Market Square,
Knoxville, TN 37901

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Additional Info

Functions: Retail

Previous Names: Rialto Theatre

Nearby Theaters

Crystal Theatre

Located on Market Square, the Rialto Theatre opened in September 1929, replacing an earlier Rialto Theatre at 313 N. Gay Street (it has its own page on Cinema Treasures). It was still open in 1943, but had closed by 1950.

Contributed by David Zornig

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 1, 2015 at 11:14 am

This undated photo shows the west side of Market Square just south of Wall Avenue, probably in the late 1920s. The Rialto was in the fourth storefront from the corner. The space is currently occupied by a retail clothing shop called Bluetique. The address is 31 Market Square.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 1, 2015 at 11:34 am

Here is a a frontal view of the Rialto. The posters advertise The Hollywood Review, the 1929 MGM release that showcased a number of the studio’s biggest stars along with some of the era’s popular vaudevillians in a series of musical numbers and comic sketches. It premiered at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on June 10, 1929, so it probably reached Knoxville later that year, but the smallish Rialto was likely a sub-run theater so the photo might date from 1930.

The facade of the building that housed the Rialto is remarkably unchanged today.

DavidZornig on May 1, 2015 at 8:17 pm

1928 photo added of the Rialto Theatre.

tntim on May 2, 2015 at 2:59 pm

The old Rialto Theater moved around during its lifetime. The first Rialto was located at 313 N. Gay Street opening in 1927. The theater was then moved to 31 Market Square in 1929. In 1935 the Rialto moved down to 5 Market Square and the Crystal Theatre opened in the Rialto’s old location at 31 Market Square. In 1939 the Rialto moved one last time to 19 Market Square and remained in that location until it finally closed for good on March 1, 1946, the same day that its neighbor the Crystal Theatre also closed.

tntim on May 2, 2015 at 3:12 pm

A 1927 photo of the Rialto at its original location on Gay Street is on the photo page.

tntim on May 2, 2015 at 3:34 pm

I have failed to bring this up before, but technically the theater on this page should be listed as the Crystal with previous name Rialto.

The current Crystal page (#17232) should be listed as the Ritz with previous name Crystal. And the current Ritz (#20520) should be listed as the Booker T with previous names Sunset, Ritz, and Savoy. I think my head is starting to hurt.

DavidZornig on May 2, 2015 at 4:01 pm

Ha, I’ll say. When I first added this theatre, I could find no other Rialto listed in Knoxville on Cinema Treasures. Since my 1928 photo and the photo in the Knoxville historical link in the first comment are the same building, I’d say both are the Market Place location. The marquee was obviously moved, but the film “Two Outlaws” in my pic was released 11/18/28 according to IMDB. So the one on Gay street moved to Market Place a year after it opened.

DavidZornig on May 2, 2015 at 4:03 pm

I just noticed it’s the same film on the marquee in both pics. Mine just has people and cars.

DavidZornig on May 2, 2015 at 4:12 pm

I just added the below comment to the photo of the original Rialto on Gay Street.

“The Great Mail Robbery” on the marquee was indeed released 07/19/27. The marquee then went with to the new location on Market Place by 1928, when “Two Outlaws” appeared there on it’s 11/18/28 release. Documented in the other photos.

tntim on April 8, 2023 at 10:02 am

The Rialto opened on Market Square in September 1929. I posted the newspaper article in the photo section which stated the the projection equipment from the former Gay Street location was moved to the new location. Even though “The Two Outlaws” was released in 1928, the Rialto was a second or third run theatre, so it would of taken a year for them to get the picture.

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