Columbia Art House

Welcome to the Historic Columbia Theatre!

Columbia Art House

Welcome to the Historic Columbia Theater

paducah’s grand dame


The Columbia Art House was built in 1927 as a vaudeville theater in downtown Paducah. The Columbia later became a movie house and performance space bringing Hollywood hits to this rural river city in western Kentucky. In the 1950s, the glitz of old Hollywood become a gilded feature of the majestic interior with a dramatic renovation. 

Now this grand dame of Paducah’s historic district is destined for greatness once more! Supporters of this significant project are set to once again present world-class entertainment at the Columbia plus much more! Help us SAVE THE COLUMBIA and donate today! 

serving the community

Cultural Asset

Paducah’s public officials, tourism professionals, educators, business people, and residents have a stake in the revitalization of the Columbia Theater. In addition to increased year-round economic activity, the Columbia will provide the with a permanent, currently non-existing facility, local access to cultural events and performances, and new educational and civic engagement opportunities. The theatre will provide a capacity that fits perfectly into the milieu of the community’s current performance spaces. It is positioned exactly in between the 1,800-seat performing arts center and the 180-seat Market House Theater. The Columbia’s 500-seat structure will allow for a variety of new cultural offerings that fall outside the capacity of the existing venues, thereby adding exciting new programming to the community at large.

The Columbia’s location in the community’s historic district places it squarely at the cultural, historic, commercial, and architectural crossroads of the heart of the city. The early Adamesque design of the interior was a lighter, cleaner approach to earlier rococo and baroque styles. In the 1950s a renovation created a more lavish art deco style to the theater, in stark contrast to the original design. The two-story structure incorporates classical Greek and Moorish styles featuring blue and white tiles accented with Byzantine columns, classical urns and friezes, and busts of Greek goddesses. The current marquee was added in 1965. The vertical blade atop the marquee was rimmed with 2,300 lights and stood 35 feet tall. A stained glass ceiling still adorns the stunning interior and the tiles in the Columbia’s vestibule are original and were made by the Paducah Tile & Pottery Company.
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Westlake Reed Leskosky, the highly respected architectural firm that designed the planned renovation, believes that the presence of these two distinct architectural styles inside the Columbia are unique to theaters of this age. Consequently, the restored theater would draw significant attention from preservationists as well. The Columbia is believed to be one of the oldest existing movie houses in Kentucky.

The International Fine Art Conservation Studios did an extensive study of the interior décor of the theater and also repaired and restored the Columbia’s original fire screen featuring a scene of the New York harbor.

Residents and urban planners have identified the revitalization of the Columbia Theater as a positive way to catalyze development of Paducah’s historic downtown Paducah, KY is a UNESCO City of Crafts and Folk Art. It is one of only SEVEN cities in the WORLD with this designation!

vibrancy attracts

Economic Driver

Arts and culture are at the root of Paducah’s vibrant community, and vibrancy attracts people and dollars. People who come to participate in the arts in Paducah spend money on dining, shopping, lodging, child care, and local entertainment. The arts are a powerful engine for creating jobs and attracting new dollars. 

In Paducah/McCracken County arts and tourism have an economic impact of more than $356 million! The opening of the historic Columbia Theatre will bring new audiences into the downtown corridor, stimulate increased traffic into the blocks surrounding the theatre, encourage new development of adjacent retail and commercial entities, spur job growth, enhance tourism, appeal to multiple target markets such as history buffs, music lovers, and film enthusiasts, and provide an environment for rental opportunities. Non-profit patrons spend approximately $39.04 per person per event in addition to the price of the ticket.

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The arts are a powerful engine for creating new jobs and attracting new dollars to a community. In 2017, total reported individual arts experiences in Kentucky reached more than five million. And when creative and arts-driven businesses are included in the calculations, the state’s creative sector accounts for more than 3% of employment; roughly comparable to the IT and communications sector. The aggregate number of youth participating in arts education programs in 2018 was 1.6 million in Kentucky.

A 2013 feasibility study, conducted by the Palmer Westport Group, concluded that restoration of the Columbia Theater as a cultural asset and economic driver for the 500 block of Broadway in Paducah was needed. Of 50 selected interviewees, 71.5% determined that there is a need to rehabilitate the Columbia Theater because of its revitalization potential for the community and the historic district.

“There are pockets of creativity across our country. Some get acknowledged and are encouraged to flourish, others are isolated and struggle to thrive. UNESCO affiliation gives our town an international presence and our creative energy legitimacy.”

Ed & Meagan Musselman

Owners of the Restored Coke Plant in Paducah

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Our Mission

Restore the historic Columbia Art House as an economic driver, a tool in creative placemaking, a beacon to the importance of architectural history, and a space for multi-cultural programming.

There are 2 ways to support our mission:

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