The Franklin Theatre has been a long-time staple on Main Street. When the doors opened in 1937, it was the first air-conditioned building in town. At the time, admission was a dime for children and a quarter for adults. With a seating capacity of 260 downstairs and forty-four on the balcony, for seventy years, the theatre showed movies of all genres. In the early days, it even served as a Vaudeville-style theater.
Over the next seventy years, the city of Franklin changed, but the theatre stood untouched. It was a true artifact from the early 1900s, but, eventually, the charm turned wretched. Then came the Heritage Foundation. Unbeknownst to some, The Franklin Theatre is a nonprofit organization and a division of the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County. So, in 2007, when the doors to the theatre closed, the Foundation put its mission statement to work to save and preserve The Franklin Theatre.
After three years of work — and an investment of more than ten million dollars — the theater re-emerged better than ever in 2011. Now, it serves as a multipurpose venue for music, movies and community events.
“The mission of The Franklin Theatre is to provide diverse, world-class performing arts experiences to Williamson County residents and visitors and to be a platform for local philanthropic engagement and education, while providing unparalleled guest service.”
This past February, Eric Dilts became the Managing Director for The Franklin Theatre.
In 2018, Eric moved to Nashville for the Executive Director position at the Nashville Jazz Workshop. Eric admitted that since his move, he has always admired The Franklin Theatre from afar. So, when the opportunity presented itself to be the new Managing Director, he knew he wanted to be considered.
“At The Franklin Theatre, our goal is to offer something for everyone,” says Eric. “I truly believe that any venue can sell a ticket, but The Franklin Theatre provides an experience. Downtown Franklin is so special that it’s not just The Franklin Theatre experience, but rather the full Franklin experience.” The theatre’s prime location on Main Street allows guests to grab a bite to eat, drink or browse the shops before and after a show. Many theatres today do not have this luxury of a community outside their doors.
Performers such as Vince Gill, Steve Martin, Sheryl Crow, Mac Davis, The Judds, Chubby Checker, Richard Marx, The Glenn Miller Orchestra, BJ Thomas and numerous musicals have graced the stage over the years. And, with The Franklin Theatre in Nashville’s backyard, you never know what local artists will show up to perform or enjoy a show.
The Theatre strives to provide a comfortable space for performers, including a green room, tucked away upstairs. The green room is stocked with any and all things the performer(s) may need – complete with a dressing area, a full bathroom and, most importantly, a washer and dryer for those traveling on the road.
Eric Dilts says: “The Franklin Theatre has established an incredible holiday tradition of showing classic Christmas concerts and movies in our beautiful historic theater. Our holiday movies and shows sell out as early as July.” People of all ages dress up as their favorite characters to watch movies ranging from White Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life to Elf and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. To see the upcoming schedule of events and reserve tickets for the best place to see a holiday movie, visit franklintheatre.com.