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100 Years of The Kentucky Theatre

Let’s take a look back at the historical Kentucky Theatre in Lexington, KY

An outside shot of the Kentucky Theatre at night in Lexington KY

If you ask us, there’s nothin’ quite like the glow of The Kentucky Theatre. | Photo by @herdlani

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Happy early birthday, Kentucky Theatre. 🎉

Next month, our beloved historical Main Street gem will celebrate its 100th birthday, making it one of the older independent theaters in the country.

Today, we’re reminiscing on years past with Hayward Wilkirson, Director at the Kentucky Theatre + sharing how you can celebrate and support the next century.


1922 | The Kentucky Theatre opens bringing live music and theater to downtown Lexington.
1950s | The first major renovation of The Kentucky brings a new marquee.
1987 | A fire set at a neighboring restaurant spreads to The Kentucky Theatre causing heavy smoke + water damage closing it for five years.
1992 | The Kentucky celebrates its grand re-opening.
2012 | The nonprofit Friends of the Kentucky Theatre is created to help raise funds for upgrades including digital projection systems.
2020 | The theater closes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
2021 | The theater re-opens under the management of Friends of the Kentucky Theatre.

Present Day

Hayward was a co-chair of the nonprofit for six years before assuming the role of director at the theater. He’s also been a patron for ~30 years. “The Kentucky Theatre is a magical place. You can travel anywhere around the world, into the future, and the past by seeing films here,” Hayward said. He added that he never gets tired of hearing “the wows” of first-time visitors.


The Big 1-0-0h! Anniversary Gala + Shindig | Sat., Oct. 8 | 6:30-11:30 p.m. | The Kentucky Theatre | Prices vary | The evening will be split into two events, the Gala from 6:30-9 p.m. and the Shindig from 9:30-11:30 p.m. During both, guests will enjoy 1920s short films, themed cocktails, a silent auction + more.

Pro tip: Check the schedule for special showings including the return of live music with Jeff Tweedy.