The Tivoli Theatre, known as “The Jewel of the South” has entertained Chattanoogans for over 90 years, offering everything from silent movies to Broadway shows.
The Tivoli opened in March of 1921, following two years of construction at a cost of nearly $1 million. The interior reflects the Beaux Arts style popular for movie palaces of the 1920s. Its high domed ceiling, grand lobby, crystal chandeliers and elegant foyer were designed by the Chicago firm of Rapp & Rapp. In 1924 a $30,000 Wurlitzer organ was installed. In 1926 the Tivoli became one of the first public buildings in the country to be air-conditioned.
Throughout the 20s, 30s, and 40s the Tivoli was Chattanooga’s premiere entertainment venue, but in the 50s the birth of television put the Tivoli on hard times. The theater fell into disrepair and was almost demolished, but in 1962 a grant from Chattanooga’s Benwood Foundation saved the theater and the Tivoli was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1986 the Lyndhurst Foundation, the State of Tennessee and the City of Chattanooga, funded a $7 million two-year restoration. The Tivoli has been an important part of Chattanooga’s Cultural, entertainment and Arts scene ever since.