Located in Knoxville, Tennessee, the Bijou Theatre represents showbiz throughout the years. This venue, linked to the two-centuries-old Knoxville Hotel/Lamar House, serves as the ultimate place for everything from orchestras to live bands to Broadway musicals.
Bijou Theatre History
The Knoxville Hotel, where the encompassing Bijou Theatre now stands, was built in 1817 by Thomas Humes to serve as a hotel with accompanying bar, ballroom and dining room. The renamed Lamar House landed in the hands of the Auditorium Company in 1908, who replaced the ballroom with a new vaudeville theater structure and kept the rest of the building as a hotel and restaurant. Slated for demolition in the 1970s, the Bijou Theatre was later saved by the Knoxville Heritage Group and two local businessmen, who funded the renovations that would restore the theater's former glory.
Bijou Theatre Events
The Bijou Theatre hosts a variety of performances each year. Music concerts are common, and East Tennesseans flock to the theater to see some of the top names in music. Apart from live bands and solo artists, the Bijou Theatre puts on other acts such as comedy, instrumental and Broadway performances. Magic acts have also been known to grace the stage.
Dating back to 1909, the Bijou Theatre has hosted new and known musicians alike, along with plenty of plays and operas. The opening night performance in 1909 was Little Johnny Jones, a musical created by George M. Cohan. Since then, the venue has seen names like the Marx Brothers, Ethel Barrymore, Dizzy Gillespie, The Ramones, Dolly Parton, Alison Krauss, Lucinda Williams, Jim Gaffigan, The Avett Brothers, Chet Atkins, Yonder Mountain String Band and many others.
Bijou Theatre Seating and Interior Layout
The grand reopening of the Bijou Theatre took place in 2005, with fly equipment, elegant seating, and updated lighting and acoustics. The Bijou Theatre now has seating for 700 guests, which is offered at various price points. All seating options have a clear view of the stage and excellent acoustics. The Bijou Theatre is separated into orchestra, balcony, loggia and box seating.
This venue also features abundant space for theater rooms and offices, and it is available to rent for weddings, corporate events, art shows, family gatherings and more.
Founded in 1786, Knoxville had a long history of textiles and manufacturing before turning to technology, research and the arts. In particular, the 1982 World's Fair helped to revitalize the downtown area, while also drawing attention to Knoxville's proximity to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Today, the arts are thriving throughout Knoxville, and numerous venues bring in visitors from the local area and beyond. In 2003, Knoxville was placed at No. 17 for the top music scenes in the nation. Knoxville Symphony Orchestra has held an active presence since 1935, with the Knoxville Opera making a name for itself since 1978.