Throwback Thursday – Bowling Green’s first cinemas and their famous filmmaker E! News 40

Old Hollywood motion pictures first appeared in Bowling Green over a century ago. It was in 1911 when Warren County’s first movie theater opened. Called the Columbia, his house was on Main Street. Mr. John Post Masters, who was named the City’s Best Citizen of the Year in 1942, headed Columbia. This is the story of “The Bowling Green Man in the Movies”.

Born in 1885, JP Masters was employed by the Crescent Amusement Company in Nashville in his early twenties. The opportunity to run the first movie theater in the nearby town of Bowling Green brought him to town in 1911 when the Crescent Company opened the Columbia. The moving pictures were a real crash. The demand for more seats and movies was so high that Crescent opened the Princess and Diamond Theaters over the next 10 years.

Masters eventually managed the town’s three movie houses in the 1940s. He often volunteered in the community and even helped use the theaters to help lift war bonds at the start of World War II. He was known to be able to adopt the latest technology in his theaters, while embracing public safety at a time when film projection technology was known to be flammable and caused numerous fires in theaters across the country. .

Known as “the man who made nickel famous,” entry into the first houses was only five cents and eventually increased to a quarter. Masters opened the Capitol Theater, called the “Southern Kentucky Performance Venue,” with comfortable floating seats and the latest Western Mirror electric sound system as audiences poured into the theater.

Masters has had the privilege of meeting some of the biggest names in Golden Hollywood history: Cecil B. DeMille, Steve Cochran and Gene Autry. Masters retired in 1960 after nearly 50 years in the theater business.

The Princess Theater sign is still on Main Street and the Capitol Theater is back up and running with shows and movies.

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