Drama and Demolition as The Missouri Theatre’s phoenix like restoration nears completion
COLUMBIA, MO — For those interested in the actual mechanics of theatre restoration the Columbia Tribune website Columbia Tribune has an extensive article on the complete restoration of the Missouri Theatre including three excellent video documentaries that take you inside the theatre at is lovingly returned to its original pre-depression rococo style splendor.
The 1200 seat theatre opened October 5, 1928 and continued in operation until the 1980s. After owners, Commonwealth Amusement Corporation of Kansas City, threatened to completely gut the auditorium and replace it with a three screen complex citizens of Columbia rallied to save the theatre. Their efforts were successful and the theatre continued to function as a single screen venue until 1988 when the Missouri Symphony Society purchased it.
Although some work was done to maintain the theatre’s integrity it was showing signs of its age. The heating, electric, plumbing and backstage were primitive by today’s standards. Wallpaper installed in the 1950s was water stained and outdated and the terrazzo floors in the lobby were covered by worn carpeting.
The theatre remained open with a mix of live entertainment and classic films until a complete restoration, plus some enhancements, began July 27, 2007. Along the way challenges and surprises have been found, including an extensive collection of movie advertising and memorabilia stored and forgotten for years.
An additional $1.5 million dollars is needed to complete the restoration. The theatre is set to reopen sometime in July as The Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts with a showing of “Steamboat Bill, Jr”, the film shown on its opening night.
A history of the Missouri Theatre can be found here.