Decline of the Russell
For decades, Maysvillians enjoyed movies at The Russell Theatre. Cartoons were a regular feature on Saturday mornings, and a local business sponsored bicycle giveaways every month for Maysville's children. Citizens recall bringing in bottle caps for movie admission. The "little balcony" seats on the main floor were the most prized in the house. Indeed, throughout his life, these were the seats Mr. Russell himself insisted upon having when he attended a show.
Photo courtesy of Amanda Hankinson, Juney B. Designs
However, as many moved away from downtown in the 1970s, The Russell began to lose much of its polish and magic. The theatre was expensive to maintain and was not kept in good repair. Under new management, the interior went through several changes in color. An enterprising manager, in hopes of freshening the interior, painted over much of the original jewel tone colors with bright red and yellow paint.
Even with efforts to retain a crowd, The Russell was forced to close in 1983. The last movie to be shown was James Bond's "Octopussy." After The Russell closed as a theatre, the building housed a restaurant, a used furniture store, and finally a newspaper filler operation. The roof was damaged by heavy wind allowing water to cause the deterioration of the west interior wall. Unfortunately, the first floor auditorium seats were sold in the early 1980s to another theatre in Kentucky. The balcony seats were spared.