169 S. Main St.        

Opened 1912  .     Closed 1969 .  Seats 641 .   Demolished 1972

An article in the Commercial Appeal states that The Princess was originally a Nickelodeon named COLUMBIA which opened in 1906.  It was acquired by Frank Montgomery, the "Moving Picture Man" in 1910, from C. E. Denton.  It's safe to say that it was one of Memphis's oldest theaters. 

The Memphis Directories list COLUMBIA at 177 S. Main in 1910.  Another COLUMBIA is listed in 1914 at 318 Beale.  The first PRINCESS listing is 1912 at 167-171 S. Main.  In the 1914 listing the address becomes 169-171 S. Main.  The listings continue up to 1918 when the name changes to LOEW's PRINCESS for two years.  And then listed as PRINCESS from 1920-1958 except for a name change to PARAMOUNT for one year in 1932. 


Col: Richard Brashier

Princess 1957:  Richard Brashier

Princess:   Richard Brashier

1918 Ad for LOEW's Princess


Kemmons Wilson purchases the Princess Theatre:  It's doubtful that many Memphians remember this fact or even know about it, but Kemmons Wilson did indeed purchase the Princess Theatre for $85,000 from M. A. Lightman on September 8, 1944.  This website is grateful to the Kemmons Wilson Family for making the original, signed contract available to us, and for allowing us to publish it in its entirety.  Click on any small page to enlarge it to full screen size.  They're big files.  Please be patient while they load.


Cover Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5

Find the Princess - 1940

Princess 1940s

Princess Demo 1971

1953 Ad



1920 Ad

1920 Ad


Princess 1913

Princess 1920

Princess 1923


Walter Bolton:  "The Princess on Main was also an interesting theater. It was owned by Malco and they would show most of the Republic B westerns there. They would first run a lot of the B movies like the Bowery Boys there also. In later years after B movies went away it became a last run house for many movies and usually had a triple feature. It was one of the first theaters to have air conditioning. But it had the old water cool system which made it very cold in summer but also very moist in the theater. You would come out of the theater almost damp.  The real interesting thing about the Princess was that the refreshment stand was outside on Main street. You could stop and buy something at the refreshment stand without going into the theater. The stand had a lot of items including Popcorn, candy, hot dogs, french fries, drinks and some of the best soft serve ice cream around. A lot of people downtown would have a quick lunch at the Princess refreshment stand.   The Princess stood on Main next to the alley between Beale and McCall so it had an alley entrance for African-American customers. It was a very narrow theater but it had several balconies."  






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The "Historic-Memphis" website would like to acknowledge and thank the following for their contributions which helped make this website possible:  Memphis Public Library, Memphis University Library, Memphis Law Library, Memphis Commercial Appeal, Memphis Press Scimitar, Shelby County Register of Deeds, Memphis City Schools, Memphis Business Men's Club, Memphis Chamber of Commerce, Memphis City Park Commission, Memphis Film Commission, Carnival Memphis, Memphis Historical Railroad Page, Memphis Heritage Inc, Beale Street Historic District, Cobblestone Historic District, Memphis Historic Districts, Vance Lauderdale Family Archives, Tennessee State Archives, Library of Congress, Kemmons Wilson Family, Richard S. Brashier, Lee Askew, George Whitworth, Woody Savage and many individuals whose assistance is acknowledged on the pages of their contributions.  Special thanks to Memphis Realtor, Joe Spake, for giving us carte blanche access to his outstanding collection of contemporary Memphis photos.

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