Bruce Aspley began his career in the theater business in 1917 when he purchased the Lyon Opera House, which he remodeled and reopened as the Trigg Theatre. Money from this successful operation was used to finance the building of his dream, the Plaza Theatre. He traveled widely in the late 1920's looking for ideas to incorporate in this new movie house.
Construction of the building, designed by local architect, Dixon Rapp, began in the spring of 1930. Financial difficulties caused by the Great Depression made it necessary to proceed only as funds became available. The construction took four years to complete. According to Aspley family sources, the tile and sculptures were imported from Italy. The Plaza became the second air conditioned building in Glasgow, the Trigg Theatre being the first. Sound was provided by a state of the art RCA system. Three giant projectors were installed to show multi-reel movies.
Bruce's original plan called for the Plaza to open on his birthday, July 4th, but it was not ready. The opening came on August 23, 1934, and was accompanied by full-page ads in local newspapers. The first show was "The Cat's Paw", starring Harold Lloyd. All 1,500 seats were reportedly sold out. Admission was 25 cents for adults in the evening, 20 cents for matinees, and 10 cents for children for all shows.
In April 1935, the Plaza Theatre began offering stage shows as an additional form of entertainment.. Uncle Dave Macon on Wednesday and Thursday, May 1st and 2nd, 1935 headed the first live act under this new policy. Because of the proximity to Nashville, many country music artist appeared at the Plaza. Minnie Pearl, Loretta Lynn, the Carter Family, Flatt and Scruggs, Porter Wagoner, and Dolly Parton were among those who performed here.
Not all headliners were from country music. Dinah Shore, Roy Rogers, and Gene Autry were among others who visited the Plaza.
During World War II Mr. Aspley was active in the effort to sell war bonds and was recognized for his efforts by the state of Kentucky and by the Secretary of the Treasury and President Franklin Roosevelt. Food drives at Thanksgiving, free shows for children at Christmas, and charity events to meet special needs were also held at the Plaza. Bruce Aspley was twice honored as Glasgow's Man of the Year.
In 1953 the Plaza Theatre made the necessary alterations to show its first 3-D movie, "House of Wax." Two years later Bruce and Mary Aspley retired and soon moved to Florida. Their son, Walter "Jigger" Aspley, assumed management of the Plaza and operated it until he sold it in the 1970s. The theater was then rented to different groups for a variety of uses until it closed in the 1990s.
The Plaza was purchased by the city of Glasgow in September 2001 for $200,000. Renovation was begun under the leadership of Mayor Charlie Honeycutt who worked tirelessly on the project even after he left office. Renovations have been made possible through government grants, city funds, and the contributions of individuals and groups.
Today the Plaza Theatre thrives on live performances by musicians and others, as well as local community, church and civic groups who utilize the beloved venue for plays, recitatals, graduations wedding and more.
The Plaza thrives as the pulise of live entertainment in Glasgow because of donations, community support and volunteer help.