The Princess Theatre
Backstory and Context
The Princess Theatre is a family-friendly place for people to come and enjoy theatrical plays, concerts, exhibitions and more. Its doors have been open for almost a century, with audiences coming to see seasonal plays and concerts held by popular musicians of the nearby community and states. The theatre has been and will remain a fun place for families to enjoy live entertainment and movies in the community. It began in 1912 as a vaudeville house. A vaudeville house is a type of entertainment that was popular during the early 20th century in the United States. The theatre featured a mixture of specialty acts such as burlesque comedy, song, and dance. It was a small getaway for the Franklin community to gather and enjoy a new form of entertainment. The building that now houses the theatre was built in 1907, but it was not until the 1920s that the Princess Theatre moved in.
During the Roaring Twenties, Americans lived in cities more than rural areas, and economically, the country was thriving. People also started to buy new technology like radios and automobiles. Also, during the 1920s, the country was dominated by the rise of silent films with an accompanist, usually a pianist, for dramatic effect. The Princess Theatre often showed silent movies to its audiences and hired musicians to play background music. The nearest theatre, the Strauss Theatre Center, was an hour away by car, and it opened in the 1920s, in Monroe, Louisiana. In 1930, a sound system was installed into the theatre, and in the early 1940s, the building was expanded. In 1960, the owner of the theatre, George Elam, sold the theatre to Jack Pope. Pope continued leasing the building from Rowena Ramage, the owner of the building complex while keeping the Princess operating just as Elam had done, until the opening of Monroe's Pecanland Mall in the late 1980s, which forced Pope to close the theatre. The mall also had a cinema for movies, and people gravitated toward the movies instead of the live shows of the theatre.
In 1992, Ramage gifted the theatre to the Franklin Parish community, and it reopened in 1994 after two years of renovations. For the next few decades after its reopening, multiple concerts, theatrical plays, and occasional movies graced its stage. One popular event for the community is its annual Christmas Musical. In 2017, children in grades 3rd and higher were invited to audition in that year’s play, “Alice in Christmas Land.” Another event hosted by the theatre featured the Broadway Boys in May of 2016. The band, originally formed in New York, is known for combining broadway music along with pop. A year later in January, jazz vocalist Rondi Charleston also held a concert in the theatre. It also rents out the extension of the theatre for events such as dinners, after parties, and more.
Multiple repairs have been made to the theatre, and in 2016 broken rafters in the structure’s roof were found, and the theatre was closed until repairs were finished in late January of 2018. A musical artist, Kix Brooks, hosted two concerts to raise funds for the 2016 repairs. Brooks presented his passion for the building in an interview, saying that, "Preserving venues like the Princess – which bring the arts to rural communities – is more important than ever," he added. "The arts inspire, and institutions like this theatre provide a necessary public service and a convenient, affordable location to experience live entertainment.”
Still, the community loves to go and visit the theatre because it brings a different type of entertainment that is becoming somewhat forgotten with the decades. The theatre has also contributed to the life and economy of the community, through the restoration developing the historic downtown area and offering many different types of performances.
 “Our Story.” The Princess Theatre. Accessed 19 February 2019. https://www.princesstheatreinc.com/.
 “Kix Brooks Hosting Benefit Concert for Winnsboro Theatre.” News Star. 2 August 2018 https://www.thenewsstar.com/story/news/local/2018/08/02/kix-brooks-hosting-benefit-concert-winnsboro-theatre/889894002/
 “The Roaring Twenties History.” HISTORY. April 14, 2010. Accessed February 20, 2019. https://www.history.com/topics/roaring-twenties/roaring-twenties-history.
 “Kix Brooks hosting benefit concert for Winnsboro theatre.”
 “Princess Theatre.” Accessed April 29, 2019. https://reviews.birdeye.com/princess-theatre-534842080.