Generally speaking, actors are pretty colorful folks, so why shouldn’t the history of this north Alabama landmark also have a colorful past? The Princess Theatre started out as a livery stable in 1887. Yup, a livery stable – a place to feed and bed your horse when you got to town. In 1919, the structure was heavily transformed into a silent films and vaudeville playhouse providing a venue for high class road shows and movies accompanied by local orchestras. In 1941, the theatre was once again updated in the Art Deco style with a larger than life, 2-story marquee using over 3,000 feet or neon tubing and blinking lights and an interior featuring backlighted geometric carpeting and murals that glowed in the dark to help you find your seat. And air conditioning!
The City of Decatur purchased the building in 1978 to help revitalize downtown, provide s home for the local performing arts groups and a rental facility for the community. In 1995, Centric Architecture along with Charles Cosler Theatre Design prepared a Master Plan for the development of the Theatre and the adjoining Annex into the expanded Princess Theatre for the Performing Arts. In 2001, the work was implemented and included restoring the façade and marquee, rebuilding a new stage house and fly tower, creating a thrust stage and larger orchestra pit and star dressing rooms, side stage and new lobby in the Annex. And the evolution continues to this day as the Princess Theatre expands to meet the needs of this vital community cultural center.
“There’s not an acting bone in my body, but the Princess Theater Center for the Performing Arts was a highly successful project for our firm knowing that this cultural resource was preserved and enhanced to bring performing arts such as Broadway plays, musicals, concerts, choral groups and dance to this growing community. — Jim Thompson, Project Manager”