KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The building that once housed the Pines Theater in Sevierville, where a young Dolly Parton first performed in front a paid audience, is being converted into an entertainment venue. 

The Pines Theater was located in the heart of Sevierville. It was the town’s first movie theater, it opened in 1944 and could hold a little over 700 people. They had movie showings and live performances on Friday nights. The theater hosted several country music stars along with comedians and even some radio shows. 

Dolly Parton played her first show to a paying audience at the Pines Theater when she was just 10 years old. Dolly created a replica Pines Theater in her theme park, Dollywood. The theater sits in “Jukebox Junction,” the 1950’s themed part of the park. It can hold 1000 guests and has live shows throughout the season.

The theater closed around 1957, and since then the building is now the home of a florist shop and thrift store. Earlier in the year, a company named Compass Ventures bought the building and plans to return it to its former glory.

The company has plans to turn the building into an entertainment venue named, The Pines. “The Pines will be known as a place of gaming. We will remodel the space into an inviting, welcoming, “hangout” type of atmosphere where visitors can experience the building the way it was originally meant to be experienced.” said Austin Williams, Chief Executive Officer of Compass Ventures.

The new entertainment space will include duckpin bowling, shuffleboard, retro video games, bocce ball, board games, darts and pinball as well as a full bar and food service. 

Williams said they definitely will try and restore the building back to its historical roots. The iconic entrance to the theater will be rebuilt and they plan to paint a mural on the side of the building that will feature some of the artists that played in the theater. They said they hope to have the theater open to the public at the end of the year. 

“Anytime we take on a project in Downtown Sevierville, there is an opportunity to highlight the history that makes the place so special. I think that is why people enjoy Downtowns in general, there is history and a unique story to learn and experience. I think you will see that story told in a special way at The Pines.” said Williams.