On March 22, 1916, “William H. Wassman’s latest addition to the motion picture world, opened in downtown Nashville.” This giant Knickerbocker Theater had two entrances and box offices, one at 210 Capitol Blvd, and one at 205 6th Avenue North. The theater was painted ivory, green, and gold and was described as being, “…altogether one of the handsomest establishments in the country.”
The interior featured birds-of-paradise frescoes designed by Nashville artist Otto Hylen. Hylen had work in nearly every major building in Tennessee. The excavations, foundations, and plain concrete work were all done by the Foster and Creighton Company and were described as, “…second to none ever constructed in Nashville.” The theater was advertised having a $15,000 symphony organ as well as two Edison Super-Kinetoscopes. The opening feature film was Bessie Barriscale in “Bullets and Brown Eyes.”
The luxurious theater was operated by Dewey Mason from 1920 until 1945. Mason oversaw the renovations that were made to the theater in the 1930s. After Mason, Floyd R. Rice managed the theater until 1952. The Knickerbocker closed on February 4, 1962 almost 46 years after it opened. The theater began showing low budget movies, for years such as Hot Rod Girls, Girls in Prison, Attack of the Crab Monsters, Not of This Earth, and Attack of the 50 Foot Woman. After its closure, the building was stripped and converted into a Super X drug store which occupied the space for 20 years. By 1990 the Knickerbocker Theater was totally abandoned. It was subsequently torn down in order to make way for a parking lot. The site is currently occupied by Tennessee State Government offices.