Objects found in Columbia Theatre made into artworks

Many of you have memories of visiting the historic Columbia Theater. Now, almost 30 years after it closed, you can take a piece of it home.

About three months ago, local artists were allowed to go into the basement of the Columbia Theatre and find things they wanted to make into art. Old light switches, lamps, and fans were used in the artworks. Thursday night they were displayed and put on sale at an exhibit at the Paducah School of Art and Design.

Now an empty building on Broadway Street in Paducah, the Columbia Theatre was once a thriving business.

"We stood in line all the way a back to the Catholic church at one time waiting to get in," said Beth Devillez, who’s lived in Paducah her entire life.

It’s still full of memories. Devillez remembers watching movies with her sister, which sometimes were too sad for them to handle.

"The ushers ushered us out, because she was crying so hard," Devillez said.

"People my age and older remember going there, and the last movie they saw or their first date," said Landee Bryant-Greene with the Paducah Art House Alliance Board.

That group is working to restore the theater. It organized an exhibit full of trinkets and memorabilia found inside the theater.

"It’s paying homage to the past, not letting it die," Bryant-Greene said. 

It’s all part of a larger project to restore this theater, which played movies from the 1920s to the 1980s, and even had vaudeville shows in its early days.

Bryant-Greene says part of the proceeds of the exhibit goes to the artists, and the rest will be put toward the theater’s restoration. 

"When you get this age, you think back at some of the really happy things and you’re glad that you experienced them. You’re sorry it’s over with, but times change," Bryant-Greene said. 

Devillez hopes future generations can someday make their own memories at the Columbia.

The exhibit is open from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday at the Paducah School of Art and Design.

Bryant-Greene says the Paducah Art House Alliance Board hopes to start a capital campaign at the beginning of next year.

If you’re interested in buying a piece of art, but couldn’t make it to the event, email Bryant-Greene at landee@maidenalley cinema.org.

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