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   The Lane
Mission Statement
History
Restoration Plans
Fund Raising
Adopt a Seat
Upcoming Events


   Links of Interest
Roadside Theater
CenterStage
Leeds Center
Bijou Theater
BadEye and Wanda
Stage One Theater
Paramount Arts Center
Appalshop
Kentucky Arts Council
   History of the Lane

On July 15, 1948, Mr. Foster Lane, Williamsburg businessman who already operated the Dixie Theater and served as a former mayor of the town, posted the grand opening of the Lane Theater in response to the surge in interest in the movies in prosperous post WWII America.  According to Betty Witt, one of Mr. Lane's daughters, the Dixie filled to capacity at every showing and her father saw the need to expand.  The July 15th edition of the Whitley Republican, in a front page spread on the grand opening, states "The Lane has seating capacity, is thoroughly fireproof, and has the best projection and sound equipment available. An attractive ladies lounge, and a modern men's room have been provided for the comfort and convenience of its patrons, along with air conditioning, a sanitary drinking fountain and numerous other items designed to make theater going a real pleasure.  The Falls City Equipment Company of Louisville installed the projection and sound equipment.  It also supplied the auditorium seats which incorporate the latest features in comfort....  Another feature of the new theater will be the Dairy Bar, owned and operated by Beech Grove Farm, specializing in sandwiches and fountain service.  The Dairy Bar will provide an ideal place for that 'snack after the show.'"

                                     

Mr. Lane remained politically active and would host civic events and political rallies at the Lane.  He was known to proclaim, "It'll be a big day at the Lane today!"  A number of people traveling through the state would attend cinemas at the Lane.  Local visitors from Corbin and London could hop the train for 15 cents and exit at the depot right near the theater.  Lines of moviegoers would often extend from the theater back to the railroad tracks.

With the growth of TV, videos, and multiplex cinemas, the Lane could not sustain a viable customer base.  It closed its doors in the mid 1980's.  For a brief period the building was utilized as a courtroom by the Whitley County Court system before it was relegated to its most recent function as a storage building for the city.  During the 90's it filled with old parking meters, dilapidated office equipment, old records and the stuff that any garage or storage shed would attract.  The roof deteriorated to the point that over the stage area you could see the sky and rain poured in.  The entire stage area rotted out.  Thanks to someone with forethought, the red auditorium seats were well covered with heavy black plastic, which did a good job of preserving them.  When members of the Action Team got wind of a possible sale of the building, we geared up to save it from becoming a future, admittedly much needed,  parking space.

The city council agreed to our request that the Lane not be sold until we could come up with a plan for purchasing it.  Mayor Nighbert and the council honored that request.  Mother nature did her part, or God stepped in to help out, with two strategically placed wind storms that successively tore off one half, then the other half of the roof.  The city-held insurance picked up the major portion of the cost for a new roof which, given the monsoon season we have had this spring and summer, really saved the building from total destruction.  In 2001, the Action Team borrowed $50,000 from Town and Country Bank and purchased the building from the city.  Join us now and you are a part-owner of the Lane!  We are non-profit, so don't get your sights set on big shareholder dividends.  All profits to come will be used to maintain the facility and further development on Main Street.  There are other rewards to owning this theater besides money!

 

 

         
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2003 Williamsburg Action Team-- design by Teri Browning
 
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