Monday, August 15, 2016

Local Landmarks


My PLAN today (notice my best laid plans don't work at least half the time??) was to try out the watercolor pencils I found while cleaning my closet.  They are cheap and crappy and I abandoned them after two sections of this and went back to my little Koi watercolor box, which performs pretty well. It's ink and wash, technically mixed media because I used a white Gelly Roll pen for the lights.

So, this is the sign at Oldham Theater.  I knew who to go to, to find out its history:  Belinda Elsberry. She is a collector of local history and she is THE lady to ask if you want to know what happened when in White County, TN.  She didn't disappoint.

Oldham Theater was originally at a different location, starting in 1928, and it was just a couple of years later that they installed a "movie phone" so that locals could see pictures with sound.  Little Sparta was among the first towns in the state to have such fancy equipment.  In 1935 the theater moved to its new and current location on Liberty Square in the heart of the town.   The Cardwell family operated it until 1977, when it was shut down. Many White County residents have fond memories of the movies they went to see there, with tales of 25cent movies (can you imagine?  we are paying 40 times that much now...).

In 2004 the building itself was torn down, but the marquee was preserved as the facade for a town Welcome Center. It is without a doubt Sparta's most recognizable landmark, though many people mourn the fact that it wasn't kept open as a theater, and it is rarely open as a welcome center.  I have only been inside it once.

At some point I will take on the challenge of painting Oldham at night with its neon lights ablaze, in a bigger format (this is a little postcard sized daily painting).  Belinda suggests I talk to Mr. Cardwell about all the history behind it.  Sounds like a fun project!