Franklin Theatre

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1909 advertisement for the Franklin Theatre

The Franklin Theatre was a Vaudeville theater and cinema located at 1819 Avenue E in Ensley. It and the nearby Belle Theatre were constructed together in the early 1900s by Joe Steed. Dan McEachern managed both houses. Steed experimented in 1909 with improved curtains for exhibiting "picture films".

In the early 1920s, McEachern was recruited to the Tennessee Coal, Iron & Railroad Company as a safety engineer. Management was then turned over to Joseph Andrews.

During Andrew's tenure daytime films were accompanied by his daughter operating the theater organ, player piano or Victrola. Evening features were accompanied by a big band, often J. D. McCorie's ensemble. In 1926 the Franklin hosted the world premiere of the feature film Men of Steel, which was filmed in Ensley.

The Franklin closed between 1930 and 1934. The building was left vacant and later served twice as a restaurant (a Catfish King location more recently). It is currently vacant.


  • Prince, A. G. (1982) Landmarks of Ensley: Past and Present. revised edition. Ensley: Best Printing Service