The Tennessee Theatre boasts a rich 80-year history, filled with the highs of the glory days of cinema and lows of an uncertain future in the 70s. Designed by Chicago architects Graven & Mayger, the Theatre was hailed as “the South’s most beautiful theatre” when it opened in 1928. After being purchased in 1981 by James A. Dick, the Theatre began a gradual shift from a single-screen movie theater to the multiuse performing arts venue it is today. In 1996, the Historic Tennessee Theatre Foundation was formed to preserve, maintain and operate the Theatre. 

The Foundation first came to Designsensory in 2008 in need of a website that could reflect the beauty of the Theatre and serve as a ticketing gateway for its patrons. In 2011, we had another opportunity to work with the Theatre, following a new logo and style guide rollout. Given our history with the Theatre and its iconic presence within the community, we could not have been more excited when they recently came to us in need of a complete responsive redesign that would better serve their users and the Theatre. 

First and foremost, we wanted to focus on an updated event calendar. The old calendar was cumbersome and limited in the details and media it could provide about the performance and artist. We created a calendar grid that highlights each show graphically. Date and interest filters make narrowing results easy and seamless. We also created an event detail page that clearly defines the dates and prices of the show. To increase user engagement, we added a large image and video area and pulled in the related artist social feed. Now, users can learn about the show, purchase tickets and connect with the artist in one location. 

Given that the Historic Tennessee Theatre Foundation is a nonprofit, we also wanted to make it easier for users to support the Theatre. We created a landing page that clearly outlines the multiple ways a donor can support the Theatre. We integrated the Theatre’s current donation platform into the site so users may donate without leaving the web page. 

Because this redesign marked the 10-year anniversary of the building’s renovation, we wanted a unique way to tell the full story of the Tennessee. In the Discover section of the site, we created a robust timeline that highlights the important milestones in the Theatre’s history. The Foundation provided excellent photography to help tell this story in a visual, easy-to-read manner. Within this section, we also highlighted the recently released book, “The Tennessee Theatre: A Grand Entertainment Palace,” written by Knoxville’s celebrated author Jack Neely. 

Lastly, to accommodate greater user interaction with the Theatre, we created a social dashboard that pulls in the latest feeds from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Not only can users find recent Theatre news, but they can also interact with artists the day of the performance. 

It was an honor to work with the Historic Tennessee, and we look forward to another 80 years of musical and artistic excellence from this one-of-a-kind venue. To learn more about the Tennessee Theatre, please visit