12 Fascinating Historic Kentucky Theaters
Kentucky has some of the finest restored historic theaters that are still in operation today. From variety shows to concerts to old and new movies, these theaters offer a world of entertainment for local communities.
Check out this list of 12 historic theaters that can be found across the Bluegrass State from Russell Springs to Maysville, Hopkinsville to Elizabethtown and more. Plan a special visit to appreciate the theaters’ architecture and try to take in a tour or show while you’re there!
#1 Star Theater, Russell Springs
Marked by a large white star, the Star Theatre, is located on Main Street in Russell Springs. . The 1940s-era movie house originally had a bowl-shaped floor and showed movies for three decades before shutting its doors. It was home to several short-lived businesses before being renovated into a performing arts theater, where it has been showcasing local talent since 1994 with concerts, magic shows, comedies, dramas, hit Broadway musicals and more.
#2 Capitol Arts Center, Bowling Green
Located in historic downtown Bowling Green just steps from the city’s Fountain Square Park you’ll find the Capitol Arts Center. Originally it served as a vaudeville house in the late 1800s, then renamed the Columbia Theatre and in the 1930s it was redesigned for movies and renamed the Capitol Theatre before closing in 1967. After being vacant for years, it underwent a multi-million-dollar renovation and reopened as the Capitol Arts Center in 1981. Today, it’s owned by the Warren County Public Library and features a 750-seat auditorium, an art gallery and a used bookstore – Capitol Books. Throughout the year, the center is host to local and touring arts performances, civic events, feature-films and more.
#3 Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center, Lexington
The Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Cente , located on the corner of East Third Street and Elm Tree Lane in Lexington preserves, promotes, presents and celebrates diverse cultures with special emphasis on African American cultural heritage. When the facility first opened in 1948, it was a thriving cultural hub for Lexington’s African American families hosting movies, fashion shows and acts such as Count Basie and Ray Charles. After sitting dormant for years, it was beautifully renovated and now boasts a 540-seat proscenium theater, museum, gallery, courtyard and multi-purpose room. It’s home to a variety of events and shows throughout the year, including weekly tapings of the Woodsongs Old-Time Radio Hour.
#4 Russell Theatre, Maysville
Featuring a Spanish-Moorish Revival style exterior with Rookwood tile adorning the box office, the Russell Theatre in Maysville is a sight to see! The three-story building was originally intended as a movie theater but also had dressing rooms for live performers and an orchestra pit, plus a beautiful auditorium. The theatre opened in 1930 with the “Whoopee” movie and has since presented Maysville native Rosemary Clooney’s “The Stars are Singing” in 1953 and several others. Unfortunately, it fell into disrepair and although the exterior has been restored, the interior is still undergoing renovation. It is open for business, with tours held throughout the year as well as private events, movies and more.
#5 Grand Theatre, Frankfort
The Grand Theatre in Kentucky's capitol, Frankfort, currently offers a variety of performances throughout the year, including live concerts and events, classical film showings and streaming live broadcasts such as the Metropolitan Opera. Originally a 135-seat vaudeville house that was built in 1911, the theatre then showed silent movies, “talkies,” and feature films. It reopened in 2009 as a 428-seat performing and visual arts theatre. Conveniently located in downtown Frankfort on the bricked St. Clair Street, the building is just steps from Main Street.
#6 Ludlow Theatre, Ludlow
Now home to Bircus Brewing Company and Circus Mojo, Ludlow Theatre in Northern Kentucky first opened as a movie theatre in 1946. It features an Art Deco design and offered local entertainment for years, eventually serving as a clutch manufacturing plant until 2009, when husband and wife duo Paul and Renee Miller, creators of Circus Mojo, purchased and restored the unique venue. Visit to enjoy beer releases, concerts, circus shows, square dances, pro-wrestling matches, improv comedy and more.
#7 The Historic State Theater Complex, Elizabethtown
Now a cornerstone of downtown Elizabethtown, The Historic State Theater Complex operates as a venue for concerts, weddings, meetings, parties, movies and events. Fondly known as “The State,” the building has been fully restored to showcase its original 1942 Art Deco décor including original patterned carpet, paint colors and original seating, plus artwork of two Greek goddesses holding the masks of comedy and tragedy. It also features modern amenities, with the main theater plus a full rental facility for community events.
#8 Alhambra Theatre, Hopkinsville
The historic Alhambra Theatre on Main Street in Hopkinsville originally opened in 1928 and then was reopened in 1983 by the Pennyroyal Arts Council as a community performing arts center. It underwent a major renovation in 2018 to celebrate its 90th anniversary year, including a second story lobby expansion, additional performance space, an event space and viewing room. The 650-seat proscenium theatre offers a variety of performances from classic films to live performances and more.
#9 The Louisville Palace, Louisville
Louisville's premier historic entertainment venue, The Louisville Palace, is located in the city’s theater district on the east side of Fourth Street between Broadway and Chestnut streets. It originally opened in 1928 and features a Spanish Baroque motif, two stories and a grand lobby. Now owned by Live Nation, the theatre is host to a variety of live entertainment throughout the year including concerts, musicals, shows and more.
#10 Paramount Arts Center, Ashland
The Paramount Arts Center in downtown Ashland was originally known as the Paramount Theatre, and was opened in 1931 to for motion pictures and variety performances. It has been operating as a non-profit organization since 1972, offering inspiration, education and entertainment to the community while preserving a unique historical landmark. The Art Deco building has seating for 1,400 people and averages 120 performances each year, from musicals to concerts to comedy shows.
#11 Plaza Theatre, Glasgow
The historic Plaza Theatre in downtown Glasgow has been making memories since 1934, serving as a venue for concerts, plays, recitals and other community events. In its early days, the theatre was home to country music shows, then charitable events during World War II, local shows and movies and then was renovated in the early 2000s by the city. Located in the heart of downtown along Main Street, it’s a great spot to visit for live entertainment throughout the year, including the Black Stone Cherry rock band which started locally. The theatre sits 1,020 people.
#12 Madison Theatre, Covington
Located in the heart of Covington’s Renaissance District in northern Kentucky, the Madison Theatre is a beautifully restored theater that now serves as a concert and live entertainment venue with a diverse lineup of music, comedy, sports and film events. It was opened in 1912 as the Lyric Theater, then became the L.B. Wilson Theater and finally the Madison Theater. The theater suffered a catastrophic fire in 1944 and was rebuilt in 1946.