Knoxville — Walking around the work-in-progress that is the Village Theater with Curt Schwanebeck, one cannot help but be intrigued by the history that not only the building holds, but that Schwanebeck remembers.
Schwanebeck and his family came to Knoxville to run the theater over 50 years ago. His late father, Carl, was hired to manage the business.
A great deal of demolition work has been done to the interior of the theater, with more expected to take place on a workday on Saturday, Feb. 1. Schwanebeck said Saturday's project will likely include removing wiring, some of which has been in the theater since the 1930s. A ceiling inside the lobby is also expected to be removed, to expose the original one that was there when Schwanebeck first set foot inside in 1960.
Schwanebeck remembers that when he arrived, there was an octagonal box office to the outside, in which people bought tickets. He said no one cared to work inside the office because they were forced to deal with weather conditions.
Pointing around to different areas, Schwanebeck's general knowledge as to the structure of the building is impressive. He can tell you where the I-beams are, which floors are original and more. Inside the ground floor auditorium, he points to a much higher ceiling that he spent an entire summer painting - even though he was afraid of heights. His father installed the lower ceiling for better heating efficiency.
A room inside the theater, which most people were unaware of its existence, was rediscovered during the last workday. The theater's "cry room," toward the back, included two seats, a window and speakers. Parents could take their crying or unruly children into the room to calm them down, while still being able to enjoy the show, and not inhibiting anyone else's ability to do the same.