Through the end of this semester, students and community members can glimpse an exhibit featuring original items from the Varsity Cinema Theatre — a Cookeville icon for 32 years.
The exhibit in Crawford Alumni Center, which is the theater’s home, features memorabilia from the original movie theater, iconic movie posters and new art created for the anniversary.
Leon and Mary Jean DeLozier owned and operated the Varsity Cinema Theatre on the corner of Dixie Avenue and 7thStreet.
Brandon Boyd, director of the alumni center, said they reached out to the children of the DeLozier family, who now live in California and Europe, in search for original items.
“The brother and sister were very excited and sent us original items that had been used in the building,” Boyd said.
Last month, alumni center employees celebrated the building’s 50thanniversary during an open house that attracted more than 40 alumni, faculty, staff, students and children.
Shelby Campbell, sophomore journalism student from Dover, Tennessee, attended the celebration and said she learned a lot about what Tech was like several years ago.
“It was really cool being able to see the past of Tech as the Varsity Center showed us how Tech students were in the past,” Campbell said.
Boyd and President Phil Oldham addressed the audience during the event that included a costume contest and refreshments.
In 1969, the DeLozier Family celebrated the grand opening of their new business, the Varsity Cinema Theatre. Boyd said the Varsity was the popular movie theater in Cookeville for many years.
In 1980, movie distributors pressured DeLozier to play the movies for longer but only had one screen which would tie up scheduling.
In 1981, he reopened the Varsity Cinema Theatre as the Varsity Twin featuring two screens.
In 2001, he opened the AMC theater in Cookeville. The DeLozier’s closed the Varsity Twin and sold it to a marketing firm. Then in 2014, Tech acquired the building and university advancement moved their offices into the building.
Last month, Tech’s Board of Trustees approved for the building to be renamed to the Varsity Building.
“Folks already call it the Varsity so it just shows that we are recognizing Tech’s history and it ties in nicely with the connection between alumni and their time here at Tech,” Boyd said.
The exhibit is open 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Varsity Building at 705 N. Dixie Ave. through the fall semester.