It’s been one year since the 80-year-old Buckhead Theatre came back to life as a local gathering spot in the city’s premier neighborhood. And of course, there’s a party planned to celebrate the anniversary.
The former Roxy Theater at 3110 Roswell Road dates back to 1931, when it was a favorite neighborhood hangout for kids and adults. It held particularly fond memories for Charlie Loudermilk, the Buckhead resident and founder of Aaron's Inc., who spearheaded the building’s rebirth.
“I was a poor boy, and a joy in my life was to go every Saturday morning to see a movie at the Buckhead Theatre,” said Loudermilk. “Back then, a nickel got you in. Radio characters like the Lone Ranger and Tex Ritter came alive on the big screen. [It] was the place where I could go and see a world much bigger and much different than my hometown. I loved the experience and I loved the place.”
Loudermilk’s nostalgia inspired him to buy the building with the two properties on either side and to embark on a renovation project that took two years and about $6 million to complete.
“I got involved when I saw the theater deteriorating,” he said. “It was a place I didn’t want to see go away. I also didn’t want to see it continue as a building badly in need of repair. Its name had changed to the Roxy, but I really didn’t want to change it back to Buckhead Theatre until it was revived to what I thought it should be — a beautiful place.”
To get the job done, Loudermilk recruited his daughter, interior designer Lisa deGolian, who started by visiting local, historic theaters for inspiration.
“We soon were amazed at how well the building was wearing,” said deGolian. “The biggest challenge was making it multifunctional. We wanted it to be cozy if you had 10 people for a luncheon or 800 for a concert.”
The end result was a revived, two-level, 33,000-square-foot showcase with bars, meeting rooms, a 5,000-square-foot lobby and a 900-seat theater with orchestra and loge area. But most significantly, it gives its owner the chance to step back in time.
“I restored a central spot of my boyhood dreams and have, at the same time, contributed something special to Buckhead, which also means a lot to me,” said Loudermilk. “To me, Buckhead isn’t the large residential area that people see as Buckhead today. It is a special village that has grown up but needs to take care of its beginnings and honor its roots.”
Birthday Bash at the Buckhead Theatre
To mark the Buckhead Theatre’s reopening a year ago, the Buckhead Music Festival will offer a full slate of music events July 29 and 30. The first night features the Atlanta rock band Drivin N Cryin, along with Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Futurebirds and Jonny Corndawg. Doors open at 7 p.m.; tickets are $25.
The second day of the party kicks off at 1 p.m. with outdoor music and food vendors. More than a dozen artists are slated to perform. Tickets are $15. Two-day passes are also available for $30. For details, visit www.thebuckheadtheatre.com or call 404-843-2825.