Mike Mills, president of the Knox County Museum History Center, is leading a volunteer effort to restore an iconic feature of Barbourville’s historic Court Square.
The Charles R. Mitchell and Paul Mitchell family built the Magic Theatre. They opened the theatre in 1941 and operated it until 1960.
The theatre is no more, but the marquee is still the most recognized feature on the courthouse square.
The theatre was named “Magic” because local folk were impressed by the “magical doors” that seemingly opened by themselves. This was the first theatre in the state of Kentucky to have a photoelectric system.
The theatre had a special “crying room” for mothers with noisy children, and “love seats” were scattered around the theatre for lovers on dates.
In 1942, the Magic Theatre was named one of the 17 Best Theatres in the United States by “Barometer,” a theatrical trade journal.
“I hope to get volunteer labor, as well as donated materials to repair and repaint the old theatre marquee,” said Mills.
Mills is hoping to get help from any civic organizations, churches or businesses in the area.
Anyone interested in helping with this project can contact Mike Mills at the Knox Historical Museum at 627-6856.
“Let’s not let any more of our town history be torn down,” said Mills.