Comments from RobbKCity

Showing 76 - 100 of 142 comments

RobbKCity commented about Benton Theatre on Jun 12, 2007 at 2:50 pm

Here are May 2007 photos of the former Benton Theater, now used as a church facility.

The source of the photos are Eric Bowers of . Please do not duplicate or sell. Photos can be purchased at Web site.

RobbKCity commented about Vista Theatre on Jun 12, 2007 at 2:44 pm

The source of the photos are Eric Bowers of . Please do not duplicate or sell. Photos can be purchased at Web site.

RobbKCity commented about Vista Theatre on Jun 12, 2007 at 2:40 pm

Here are some May 2007 photos of the former Vista Theater building. The building now houses the Hamar Fresh Market and El Vaquero Imports stores.

RobbKCity commented about Regent Theatre on Jun 12, 2007 at 12:12 pm

The Regent Theater was demolished prior to construction of the 1201 Walnut office tower.

RobbKCity on Jun 12, 2007 at 11:14 am

Yes Claydoh, the Silo/Gourmet Coffee building is the former Alamo Theater.

RobbKCity commented about Waldo Theater on Feb 16, 2007 at 11:04 pm

The remaining building lobby and facade that was formerly the Waldo-Astoria Theater (aka Westmoreland) was destroyed by fire on Friday, February 16, 2007.

The building is a complete loss and will have to be demolished.

The auditorium space had previously been demolished for surface parking for area businesses, but the lobby and concession area had been converted into retail space.

View link

The link may go dead at some point.

Here is the story from the Kansas City Star:

KC firefighters injured as popular bar, bridal shop burn

The Kansas City Star
February 17, 2007

Five Kansas City firefighters suffered burns this morning during a fire that started about 10 a.m. in a two-story building at 75th and Washington Street.

After an apparent “flashover” engulfed the firefighters, battalion chiefs ordered all firefighters out of the building, sent in a rescue team, took a head count to make sure everyone was safe and called for a second alarm to get more fire equipment on the scene.

Multiple ambulances responded and transported six firefighters to area hospitals. One did not need treatment, one was treated and released and the other four have been admitted to the burn unit at the University of Kansas Hospital.

All are expected to recover.

“They (the injured firefighters) were able to find their way out of the room, which is good,” Battalion Chief Joe Vitale said. All five were wearing their breathing equipment, which prevented respiration injuries, he said.

The firefighters entered the smoke-filled building looking for the fire’s cause, Vitale said. The room suddenly exploded in flames from floor to ceiling, which is known as a flashover.

A flashover occurs when heat from a fire can’t escape and builds until all objects suddenly reach their ignition temperature, and flames suddenly ignite over all the surfaces and objects.

In this case, “there was nowhere else for the heat to go,” Vitale said.

Vitale didn’t know where the fire started or what caused it.

Fire officials initially reported that two firefighters had critical injuries and three suffered serious burns. By early afternoon, hospital officials had confirmed two patients in serious condition, one in good condition and one who had been treated and released. The condition of the fifth firefighter was unknown.

Once the site of the Waldo Astoria dinner theater, the building that burned contained Kennedy’s Bar & Grill, Café Apanaire, the Frankly Basic clothing store and the Gown Gallery.

One bystander, Samatha Skaggs, said it appeared that the fire started inside Kennedy’s, 7428 Washington, and that flames spread rapidly after firefighters entered. One firefighter came back out covered in flames, she said.

“It started out small, just smoke,” said she. “Then it billowed into flaming disaster. … I just pray that everybody is OK.”

Crews continued to battle the blaze from outside. Part of the roof collapsed before 11 a.m. as smoke and flames poured out of the building. Crews battling water pressure problems shut down water to one pumper to give other trucks more pressure. Vitale didn’t know to what extent the lack of water pressure affected operations, but he said the city water department was called to help boost pressure.

Additional fire crews were ordered about 11:10 a.m., and firefighters said they feared the building would collapse. Much of the roof did.

A co-owner of Kennedy’s said that employees usually arrive after 10 a.m., so no one would have been preparing food at the time the fire started.

Erica Titus, a former worker at Gown Gallery, had headed there to visit former co-workers before realizing the building was on fire.

“This is very, very emotional,” she said.

At 12:15 p.m., fire officials said their crews had gained control of the fire, and they weren’t afraid that it would spread further. Four trucks continued to pour water on the blaze.

George Throener, who was at a coffee shop about a block away when the first fire trucks first arrived, said he watched bakery workers knock on other doors to tell people to get out.

“I saw one (firefighter) come out, and his hands were burnt,” he said.

Paramedics wrapped his hands in gauze and put him in an ambulance, he said.

RobbKCity commented about Vista Theatre on Feb 1, 2007 at 8:32 am

This theater building remains, and is used by a retail store.

RobbKCity commented about Apollo Theatre on Feb 1, 2007 at 8:16 am

Re: Here is a thread on the possible renovation of this theatre along with pictures; old, new, and proposed:
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posted by Claydoh77 on Dec 26, 2006 at 6:48am

Here is the more specific link:

RobbKCity commented about Gillis Opera House on Jan 30, 2007 at 2:19 am

The Gillis Opera House seated up to 1,700 patrons when the theatre opened in 1883. Source: Mrs. Sam Ray Postcard Collection, Kansas City Public Library.

RobbKCity commented about Fiesta Theatre on Dec 23, 2006 at 10:20 pm

The correct address for the Lindbergh Theater was 4011 Troost Ave, not 3036 Prospect. That was the address of the Linwood Theater.

RobbKCity commented about Bagdad Theatre on Dec 23, 2006 at 10:06 pm

I have found references to the Bagdad Theater being at 27th and Troost on the KC Library Web site.

RobbKCity commented about Rockhill Theatre on Dec 23, 2006 at 4:14 am

Troost is beginning to make a comeback. Some of the retail strip along Troost north of Linwood has slowly been cleaned up. There was a volunteer effort to plant tulips along Troost this past autumn to bring some landscaping and beauty back to the street. There appears to be an effort to build community support for restoring the Apollo Theater on Troost just south of Linwood as well.

The voters in Kansas City recently passed a light rail project as well, and it will run along some parts of Troost. Hopefully, this will help spur some development along parts of it.

RobbKCity commented about Screenland Armour on Dec 23, 2006 at 4:06 am

The renovation of the Paradise Theater has begun. The marquee has been removed so far as well.

RobbKCity commented about Plaza Theater on Dec 23, 2006 at 3:59 am

Edward Tanner was employed by the Boller Brothers before he left to work for the J.C. Nichols Development Company, which built the Plaza Theater, and the Country Club Plaza District where the Plaza Theater is located. Tanner was working for J.C. Nichols as lead architect of the Plaza Theater, but the Boller Brothers were contributing designers.

RobbKCity commented about Garden Theatre on Dec 23, 2006 at 3:52 am

This was one of the Boller Brothers first attempts at an atmospheric theater. It was one of four Kansas City-area atmospheric theaters. The other three are lobby area of the Plaza Theater (Edward Tanner with Boller Brothers); the Granada in Kansas City, KS [open] (Bollers); and the Uptown Theater [open] (John Eberson).

In addition to the Granada Theater in Kansas City, KS, only two other atmospheric theaters designed by the Boller Brothers remain open to the public in the USA. They are the Crown Uptown Theater in Wichita, KS; and the Poncan Theater in Ponca City, OK.

Only about 35 Boller theaters remain open to the public nationwide out of the more hundreds they designed. Four of these are in the Kansas City metro area: Granada, Benton. Rio, and Aztec/Fine Arts/Mission Theater. Of the four, three are still operating as theaters. The Benton Theater operates as a church.

There appears to be an effort to restore one other Boller Theater in the Kansas City area — the Apollo Theater on Troost. It is the oldest Boller Theater building remaining in the Kansas City area, but isn’t presently open or used.

The Plaza Theater still exists, but the lobby is now the site of Restoration Hardware. The theater is said to be intact, but the atmospheric elements of the lobby were reportedly lost in the renovation for the retail store.

RobbKCity commented about Belmont Theatre on Dec 23, 2006 at 3:27 am

Was this theater ever called the St. John Theater?

RobbKCity commented about Gem Theatre on Dec 23, 2006 at 2:48 am

The Gem Theater was designed by local Kansas City architect George Carman.

RobbKCity commented about Oriental Theater on Dec 23, 2006 at 1:47 am

Leo A. Desjardins was the architect of the Denver Oriental.

RobbKCity commented about Garden Theatre on Dec 5, 2006 at 4:51 pm

Regarding the statement: “The Garden Theater opened on August 13, 1912 and was designed by Kansas City architect Carl Boller — as were the Empress, Gayety, and Midland theaters.”

Thomas Lamb was the primary architect of the Midland Theater, and the Boller Brothers were the supervising architects.

RobbKCity commented about Globe Theater on Dec 5, 2006 at 4:39 pm

Correction. I stated that the former site of the first Globe Theater at 1112 Walnut is now occupied by Commerce Bank Arcade. That is incorrect. Town Pavilion tower nows sits on the site of the former theater.

RobbKCity commented about Globe Theater on Dec 5, 2006 at 4:24 pm

The new Kansas City Repertory Theater will be opening on the former site of the Globe Theater in February of 2007. The new theater building, completed in 2006, is part of the new Power & Light entertainment district.

The second Globe Theater at 1300 Walnut (southwest corner of E. 13th and Walnut) has the distinction of screening the first talking movie in Kansas City. It was constructed in 1913, and demolished in 1932. The site remained a surface parking lot from 1932-2005.

The second Globe Theater was constructed after the first Globe Theater (1112 Walnut between E. 11th and 12th streets) was demolished in 1913 to make way for the Klein’s Department Store. Klein’s closed and was demolished. Commerce Bank Arcade sits on the property today.

The first Globe Theater was located in a building constructed in the 1880s as a firehouse. It was later converted into a cabaret; then the Majestic burlesque and vaudeville theater; was for a time a Pantages vaudeville house; and finally was called the Globe Theater, again a vaudeville venue.

Information and photos about the first Globe Theater can be found here:

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While I’ve not been able to find a good photo of the second Globe Theater on the southwest corner of E. 13th and Walnut, I was able to find a photo of downtown Kansas City on the KC Public Library website, where one can see it in the photo.

Here is a photo from the early 1920s looking west along 13th Street. The roof and east facade of the second Globe Theater can be seen directly under the smokestack in the picture, and to the left of the low-rise white brick building with the big, dark windows (the former Jones department store).

Three other theaters are also apparent in the photo. In the lower left is the roof and back facade of the former Garden Theater (one of the Boller Brothers’s first atmospheric theaters); on the right mid-portion of the photo is the east and south facades of the B. Marcus Priteca-designed Pantages Tower Theater (right, below the skeleton of a skyscraper being built); on the middle left edge of the photo is the Rapp & Rapp-designed Mainstreet (Empire) Theater (small, light-colored, domed building). The Mainstreet (Empire) is the only theater in the photo remaining. It is currently undergoing restoration and will reopen as an AMC Theaters all-digital 6-screen boutique cinema.

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Here are some references to the Globe Theater from the Kansas City Public Library’s local history database:

The “Vitaphone” Brings Another Important Screen Event Article about the presentation of the “first” talking movie in Kansas City, “Don Juan,” starring John Barrymore, on June 11, 1927, at the Globe Theater.

Source: Kansas City Star,
Date: June/12/1927
Page(s): 16D: 1

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Article about the demolition of the theater whose “greatest claim to histrionic distinction here [Kansas City] is that the talking movie…was introduced within the Globe walls.”

Source: Kansas City Star,
Date: April/21/1932
Page(s): 3: 3

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It is reported that the second Globe Theater did better as a vaudeville house than a movie theater.

RobbKCity commented about Future Looks Hopeful for Kansas City's Empire Theater on Nov 6, 2006 at 12:02 am

Here is a live webcam view of the ongoing construction of the new entertainment district, named the Power & Light District, around the existing Mainstreet (Empire) Theater. The theater is the domed structure near the top of the image.

The view will not be as good at night obviously, and also will be affected by weather. It may take a few seconds for the screen to appear on slower computers, or those using dial-up service.

The district will be anchored by the Midland and restored Mainstreet (Empire) theaters, the new Sprint Arena, and the newly restored Hilton President Hotel.

Another theater is being constructed across the street from the Mainstreet (Empire) Theater that will be an additional performance venue for the Kansas City Repertory Theatre. It is the building extending into the right center next to the parking garage in the lower right corner of the image. When viewing at night, it’s the building with the upturned floodlights on the sides of the structure.

Here’s a bit of interesting history. The new KC Rep. performance space sits on the former site of the Globe Theater, which was demolished in 1932. According to an article in the Kansas City Star reporting the demolition, the Globe’s “greatest claim to histrionic distinction here [Kansas City] is that the talking movie. ..was introduced within the Globe walls.”

The theater introduced Vitaphone to Kansas City with the screening of “Don Juan,” starring John Barrymore, on June 11, 1927.

RobbKCity commented about Future Looks Hopeful for Kansas City's Empire Theater on Nov 6, 2006 at 12:01 am

Here are links to renderings of how the theater will appear after the renovation is completed. The name will change back to the original name, the Mainstreet Theater.

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These renderings show how the theater will fit into the surrounding entertainment district that is being constructed around it.

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RobbKCity commented about Future Looks Hopeful for Kansas City's Empire Theater on Nov 5, 2006 at 11:59 pm

Here’s some links to some old photos of the theater (circa the 1930s) when it was operating, and not boarded up.

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RobbKCity commented about Alamo Drafthouse Mainstreet on Nov 5, 2006 at 10:12 pm

The reason I’m posting all the photos and details of the restored theater, and surrounding entertainment district, is to inspire individuals in other cities as to what can happen with threatened theater buildings. It illustrates that it’s not always a hopeless situation, and that cities can find ways to save and find new uses for these historic buildings.

The lesson here is that it all starts with individuals speaking up and demanding these architecturally-significant structures be saved and reused in modern life. This can be done by doing research into the history of the buildings; involving the local media; and getting other people to contact city officials, building owners, developers, and even local chapters of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The Internet, email, and web sites have made this all easier to do. Local historic societies and foundations are often vital participants in such efforts as well.

City leaders, developers, and your neighbors need to be shown that old theaters are important to not only our heritage, but that new uses can be found. People need to be shown examples of how these beautiful old buildings have been be used to bring new life back to downtown business districts, and other retail districts.

These structures are valuable assets to an entire community whether they be reused as film theaters, live performance venues, nightclubs, live broadcast studios, retail stores, book and music stores, art galleries, community centers, meeting halls, ballrooms, or even churches.

No longer is the only alternative to tear theaters down. There are examples that can be cited of what can be done. The most important lesson for me has been the effect and power of a few concerned individuals. It can make a huge difference.

If they don’t know, they don’t care. In many cases, city leaders and developers just have no idea what these old theaters mean to local residents. Often I think, developers immediately assume the best use of the property is to tear it down and start over. They just don’t have the imagination to think otherwise. One effective argument—to use with any developer or property owner—is to educate them about how local, state, and federal historic preservation funding, tax-increment financing, and urban development funds can be used to offset the expense of restoring these buildings. Often these funding sources combined can pay for up to 50 percent of the cost of restoration and reuse. In some cases, another potential tool is selling the naming rights to the reopened facility, or renaming the facility after a charitable benefactor or popular local figure.

There’s hope if individuals are willing to step forward.

I think is important is to be proactive. First of all, these old theaters cannot be allowed to continue to deteriorate while waiting for something to be done. Hundreds of these buildings are slowly rotting all over this country. Many times it’s a deliberate act by the property owner in hopes the local municipality will condemn the building because of safety and health issues. There are some property owners that allow the perfectly good theater buildings to fall into ruin to justify tearing them down. The common refrain is that “it’s prohibitively expensive or economially unfeasable to save the building because of its condition,” or “it’s unsafe, or too far gone.”

On some occasions, the city itself contributes to the problem by not enforcing local building code violations. City inspectors might cite the building owner, but nothing is done to enforce the action. Or, the fines are so small that it’s cheaper to pay the fines than repairing or stabilizing the structure to meet code.

To be fair though, there are also as many owners who don’t have the money to stabilize or maintain the property adequately, or just don’t know what to do with the structure. Some owners can’t even afford to tear the structure down, which might actually result in delaying demolition of some theaters.

Difficulties also arise when the property sits in economically depressed, or unsafe, areas. This makes it difficult or impossible for property owners to get financing to renovate the structure. In these cases, the property owner is hostage to condition of the adjacent neighborhood. Often the only solution is development of a wider community plan to stabilize and improve the entire area, which requires action of city leaders, developers, and other property owners.

People do purchase old theaters will good intentions, but things happen to prevent them from carrying out the plan. Market conditions and technology change, and a myriad of other obstacles arise.

Under some situations, a theater can really only be saved if city officials authorize and create an urban redevelopment zone around it, and assume possession of the theater through eminent domain, or property trades. This forces speculators and negligent property owners to turn over ownership of the property to another party to develop. Under this scenario, old theaters can be saved, renovated, and reused as part of a greater community development plan.

Some developers and city officials though are now understanding the marketing value and cache of historic properties that are restored or reused. They can be used as anchors, or trophy buildings, for greater redevelopment efforts in the neighborhoods around them. The architecture, unique history, or sense of place can be a vital selling device to encourage other parties to buy into a greater urban redevelopment plan.