During the years 1926 through 1929 Elizabethton experienced a boom time when the Bemberg and Glanzstoff Rayon factories began operations there and several theaters were the result of that boom. TheBonnie Kate was built in the Classical Revival style of architecture and opened in the spring of 1926. It was owned by Mrs. Olivia “Ollie” Hogue Brown, a coal baroness from Bluefield, West Virginia.
The theater opened to a full house of 500 enjoying the showing of a silent film. During the 1930’s and 40’s, a live local music show called “Barrel of Fun” was broadcast by two radio stations to a listening audience reported to be in the millions in the southeastern United States.The theater was later converted to a split screen and rocking chair seating was installed in 1969.
The Bonnie Kate Theater was named after Katherine Sherrill Sevier, a heroine of Carter County in the 1700’s and the wife of the first Governor of Tennessee. Her reputation as a fine woman inspired the nickname Bonnie Kate.