Printed from:

Welcome to Columbia Magazine  

Old Photo Of Rialto Brings Back Memories For Many

This article first appeared in issue 18, and was written by Ed Waggener.

Columbia real estate salesman Jimmy Harper located the fascinating photo of the old Rialto Theatre, once co- owned by his father.

The Rialto was located in what is now the brick section of the Bank of Columbia. As one faces the bank, the theatre would be to the right in that part of the building.

Not Exactly Gentlemen, was the movie showing , and Sweepstakes was the coming attraction. Both movies were released in 1931, which means that the date of the photo is after that, but before World War II, according to Jimmy Harper.

Tickets were 35 for adults and 20 for children. Adults were over 14 years of age, so that birthday was generally a well-guarded secret.

Alfred Harper and Vernon Yarberry sold the Rialto to John Ritchie Walker. The sellers immediately went to Louisville, and Mr. Yarberry returned first. Mr. Walker asked, "Where's Alfred?" and Mr. Yarberry replied, "He's still in Louisville. I came back because I wanted to keep part of my money."

Mr. Harper was killed in action in World War II.

Mr. Yarberry operated a number of businesses in Columbia and was later a dairy farmer.

Mr. Ray Walker, whose identify was made by Euline Bowe and confirmed by Mrs. James Graves, was a popular figure in the community. He was tall, handsome, witty, and lithe. Mrs. Bowe says that from what older people tell her, he was the best dancer in his day. "They say he would get up on tables in restaurants and dance like nobody's business."

Movie popcorn was a real bargain then. Paper cones of popcorn sold for 5. When the picture show was open, the popcorn cooker was generally on the outside.

The theatre is probably identified with Francis Xavier "X" Merkley than with any other person. He owned it between the time it was owned by John Ritchie Walker and the Tootie Rowe, who sold the theater to Charles Marshall, the owner of the newer Columbian Theater. Mr. Marshall closed the Rialto.

Between the time of the Rialto and the Bank of Columbia occupancy, Gaspard and Evelyn Brockman ran Columbia General Appliance in the space.

This story was posted on 1997-12-24 12:01:01
Printable: this page is now automatically formatted for printing.
Have comments or corrections for this story? Use our contact form and let us know.

To sponsor news and features on ColumbiaMagazine, please use our contact form.

Archive Photo

1997-12-24 - Photo Staff. MR. ALFRED HARPER, left, and MR. VERNON YARBERRY, center, owners of the Rialto, with MR. RAY WALKER, the projectionist. Alfred Harper was the father of Jimmy Harper, owner of the photo. This item first appeared in Issue 18 of the print edition of Columbia! Magazine.
Read More... | Comments? | Click here to share, print, or bookmark this photo.

Archive Photo

1997-12-24 - Photo Staff. The OLD and the NEW: The inset shows where the Rialto was located in relation to the Bank of Columbia today.This item first appeared in Issue 18 of the print edition of Columbia! Magazine.
Read More... | Comments? | Click here to share, print, or bookmark this photo.

More articles from topic Columbia Movies Special Issue:

Jonathan Moore's Movie Shoots In Gradyville

View even more articles in topic Columbia Movies Special Issue

Quick Links to Popular Features content is available as an RSS/XML feed for your RSS reader or other news aggregator.
Use the following link:

Contact us: Columbia Magazine and are published by D'Zine, Ltd., PO Box 906, Columbia, KY 42728.
Phone: 270-250-2730 Fax: 270-751-0401

Please use our contact page, or send questions about technical issues with this site to All logos and trademarks used on this site are property of their respective owners. All comments remain the property and responsibility of their posters, all articles and photos remain the property of their creators, and all the rest is copyright 1995-Present by Columbia! Magazine and D'Zine, Ltd. Privacy policy: use of this site requires no sharing of information. Voluntarily shared information may be published and made available to the public on this site and/or stored electronically. Anonymous submissions will be subject to additional verification. Cookies are not required to use our site. However, if you have cookies enabled in your web browser, some of our advertisers may use cookies for interest-based advertising across multiple domains. For more information about third-party advertising, visit the NAI web privacy site.