Fan works to return pieces of history to Palace Theatre

Ellen Roberts
Ellen Roberts

Louisville, KY - By Eric Flack - bio | email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Ellen Roberts found pieces of Louisville history just floating around on the Internet and spent her own money to get it back. But returning it to its rightful owner, The Palace Theatre, wasn't so easy.

"Busy people over there I guess," said Roberts, a long time Palace fan.

Last fall, Roberts found a small piece of Palace history floating around on Craigslist. Dozens of antique coat checks that hung in The Palace in 1920s, back when it was called Loew's Theatre. A construction worker took the coat checks when the theatre was being renovated in the 1980s. Roberts wanted to return them, so she bought them for $60

"But the money wasn't the object. I wanted to save them," Roberts said. "It's Louisville history. It's our history. They should still be with the theatre."

Getting them back to the theatre wasn't so easy. For seven months, Roberts carried them around in a plastic bag in the backseat of her car because she couldn't get anyone from The Palace on the phone.

"They have night jobs and I have day jobs," Roberts said, "and we could never get together."

So she us asked to return the coat checks for her.

We got in touch with Johnny Downs, operations manager at The Palace, who said the antique coat checks were "excellent."

"They are such a great find we wouldn't put them into circulation or use them," Downs said. "What we'll do now is add them to our Palace archives."

Downs said the theatre collects memorabilia big and small, from signed concert posters to cigarette packs and candy wrappers from performers, for its archives. He said the antique coat checks fit in perfect.

"That's what's great about the items in the archives they all have a little bit of history, a little bit of story, a journey," Downs said. "And how it came back to here will be a great thing."

If you're hoping to get a look at those antique coat checks and the rest of that great stuff in The Palace archives, you're going to have to wait.

The Palace only opens its archives for major milestones. The last time was its 75th anniversary in 2003.

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