Renovations Underway At Historic Portland Theater
by Emily Luxen
PORTLAND, Tenn. - A historic theater in Sumner County has been quiet for 60 years, but is about to be brought back to life.
The Temple Theatre on North Russell Street in downtown Portland is now the focus of a major makeover. The non-profit group Portland Preservation Foundation purchased the building and is overseeing the project.
"It's just something that came to us, and something several of us would love to do," said Billy Geminden, a member of the foundation.
Currently the 1930s era theater is empty. The space has been cleared out in preparation for construction.
Plans are drawn up and will feature a theater that will be able to show movies as well as live shows. Next to the theater will be a space for concessions, restrooms, and meeting space. New theater seats have already been ordered.
"We want Portland to be a destination place for people," said Geminden. "We feel like if we could get this theater going it would certainly give all of downtown a shot of adrenaline."
The theater originally opened in 1937 and operated until the 1950s. Geminden said it is a place where many longtime Portland residents have many happy memories.
"It was billed the finest small town theater in the state of Tennessee," said Geminden. "We've also been told Ray Acuff and Minnie Pearl performed here before they were famous. It's part of what Portland was and what we would like to be again."
The project is entirely funded by donations and grant money. The Portland Preservation Foundation hopes to start construction in April and be done by the end of the year.
For more information on the project, or to make a donation visit facebook.com/temple.theatre.portlandtn.