KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The building that once housed the Pines Theater in Sevierville, where a young Dolly Parton first performed to a paid audience, is being converted into a performance venue.
The Pines Theater was located in the heart of Sevierville. It was the city’s first cinema, opening in 1944 and seating just over 700 people. They had film screenings and live performances on Friday nights. The theater has hosted several country music stars along with comedians and even some radio shows.
Dolly Parton performed her first show to a paying audience at the Pines Theater when she was just 10 years old. Dolly recreated a Pines Theater at her Dollywood theme park. The theater is located in Jukebox Junction, the 1950s themed part of the park. It can accommodate 1000 guests and offers live shows throughout the season.
The theater closed around 1957 and since then the building has now housed a florist and a thrift store. Earlier this year, a company called Compass Ventures bought the building and plans to restore it to its former glory.
The company plans to convert the building into a venue called The Pines. “The Pines will be known as a place of gambling. We will transform the space into an inviting, welcoming “hangout” atmosphere where visitors can experience the building as it was originally intended,” said Austin Williams, Chief Executive Officer of Compass Ventures.
The new entertainment area includes duckpin bowling, shuffleboard, retro video games, bocce ball, board games, darts and pinball, as well as a full bar and dining area.
Williams said they will definitely try to bring the building back to its historical roots. The iconic entrance to the theater is being rebuilt and they plan to paint a mural on the side of the building that will feature some of the artists who have performed in the theatre. They said they hope to open the theater to the public by the end of the year.
“Every time we take on a project in downtown Sevierville, there’s an opportunity to highlight the history that makes the place so special. I think that’s why people like downtowns in general, there is history and a unique history to learn and experience. I think you’re going to see that story told in a special way at The Pines,” Williams said.