Duncan Suzuki

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Early theaters

Bringing back to life the old Pulaski Theater has been accomplished, and citizens are enjoying various forms of live entertainment. The newly renovated establishment has a great future ahead of it. I think that with the present interest high it would be good to look back over the history of all of the past theaters in Pulaski County Last week’s column was about the Opera House that was located on the south end of Randolph Avenue.
Today we will go back to the south side of the railroad tracks to the old Loan and Trust Building that stood on the southwest corner of Valley Street and West Commerce.
In his early history of Pulaski, Dr. James L. Kent wrote the following: “In the late eighteen hundreds when the north side of the railroad tracks was the swampy bed of meandering Peak Creek, and Commerce and Valley Streets were considered Down Town, a large three-story office building was constructed at the southwest corner of those streets by a group of local business men. It was known as the Loan and Trust Building, and on the third floor was a small theater.
In those days people went to theaters to watch performances by traveling groups who went about the country by rail doing big name plays in theaters large and small. There is no written record of professional productions ever having been presented in the little theater on the third floor of the Loan and Trust Building, but with two sizeable hotels, Maple Shade Inn and Hotel Pulaski, so close by the railroad running just across the street, it is easy to understand that there were.”
However Dr. Kent reported one production that turned out to be every bit as exciting as a professional one, and he wrote about it as follows.
“The author has a highlight in his dim memory of ancient history, when kerosene lamps were our only source of noctournal illumination. Springs, cisterns and wells were our only sources of water for domestic use, and the horse and buggy our only mode of transportation. He attended an amateur theatrical performance in that auditorium at which there was literally a packed house, all of whom were seated on chairs and standing against one wall in which the only exit was to a single winding stairway.
All went well until the curtains were drawn to prepare the setting for another act. One of the stage hands accidentally pulled one end of a curtain too near to a kerosene footlight. There was a small blaze and a cry of fire. The audience rose as if one person, and converged on the single exit.
(Continued next week)

-Lloyd Mathews is a retired land surveyor and a historian who lives in Pulaski

Early theaters

Bringing back to life the old Pulaski Theater has been accomplished, and citizens are enjoying various forms of live entertainment. The newly renovated establishment has a great future ahead of it. I think that with the present interest high it would be good to look back over the history of all of the past theaters in Pulaski County Last week’s column was about the Opera House that was located on the south end of Randolph Avenue.
Today we will go back to the south side of the railroad tracks to the old Loan and Trust Building that stood on the southwest corner of Valley Street and West Commerce.
In his early history of Pulaski, Dr. James L. Kent wrote the following: “In the late eighteen hundreds when the north side of the railroad tracks was the swampy bed of meandering Peak Creek, and Commerce and Valley Streets were considered Down Town, a large three-story office building was constructed at the southwest corner of those streets by a group of local business men. It was known as the Loan and Trust Building, and on the third floor was a small theater.
In those days people went to theaters to watch performances by traveling groups who went about the country by rail doing big name plays in theaters large and small. There is no written record of professional productions ever having been presented in the little theater on the third floor of the Loan and Trust Building, but with two sizeable hotels, Maple Shade Inn and Hotel Pulaski, so close by the railroad running just across the street, it is easy to understand that there were.”
However Dr. Kent reported one production that turned out to be every bit as exciting as a professional one, and he wrote about it as follows.
“The author has a highlight in his dim memory of ancient history, when kerosene lamps were our only source of noctournal illumination. Springs, cisterns and wells were our only sources of water for domestic use, and the horse and buggy our only mode of transportation. He attended an amateur theatrical performance in that auditorium at which there was literally a packed house, all of whom were seated on chairs and standing against one wall in which the only exit was to a single winding stairway.
All went well until the curtains were drawn to prepare the setting for another act. One of the stage hands accidentally pulled one end of a curtain too near to a kerosene footlight. There was a small blaze and a cry of fire. The audience rose as if one person, and converged on the single exit.
(Continued next week)

-Lloyd Mathews is a retired land surveyor and a historian who lives in Pulaski