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I grew up in Kansas City and loved the Plaza Theater. It was the gem of JC Nickels Co. Sadly the theater was made a 3plex and then closed and remodeled as A Restoration Hardware Store. I understand that much of the auditorium was saved including the Stage and the ceiling even though that space was used as back stock storage the The Floor was modified in a way that it too could actually be restored at a later date back to a theater. The front part of the balcony was sadly removed and they did not use the downstairs lounges and they were left intact. Now that the Restoration Hardware Store is gone, this would be a good time for the theater to be completely restored as a live performing arts venue maybe associated with UMKC, Put the auditorium back to the way it was. There is room to increase the stage and back stage area. Not sure what is going on with the Plaza – too many empty buildings. I understand that even Houston’s has not closed. The Business, Arts and KC Historic Community need to get behind putting the Plaza Theater Back together. The Midland, still beautiful, is now and oversized live music Bar venue and it is deteriorating with the excessive loud music. I saw a lot of problems in the auditorium and the management is doing nothing about it. Very sad. Save and Restore the once majestic Plaza Theater before it is too late.
It is now Feb 2017, is there any updates on plans to get this once beautiful theater up and running with the lights on again? I know that about 5 years ago there was some serious discussion about demolishing that auditorium and keeping the facade and building two banquet rooms for the adjoining Hotel. I hope that conversation is history.
I just took a trip back home to Kansas City, MO from Connecticut and took a drive downtown Kansas City, KS and was disappointed to see a vacant lot where the Avenue Theater once stood. I know it was closed for many years after being used by a church. However, it was not really changed in side with the exception of the movie screen, framing and the speakers being removed so the stage are could be more multi-purpose. When I moved to CT 3 years ago, I was informed that a real plan to clean up the old Avenue (later Cameo) Theater and to begin showing movies again – most likely Spanish Produced movies was almost a done deal. The biggest expense was going to be the purchase of all digital projection equipment and outfitting the stage area with a new screen and speakers. I actually was able to take a look inside before the wood protections were put in place. The theater was in very good shape with some lite water damage in the ceiling. The seats were all there and even the last remaining curtain and rig. It would have been very easy to spruce up this single screen gem still standing in the KC Metro. Not sure why this effort fell apart and the gov did not get behind it. I also noticed that the Granada Theater re done about 7 years ago has received a new facelift and seems to be a multi-use Spanish Church related venue with the capability of still showing movies but no digital projection equipment according to a man coming out of the Granada. I think Kansas City, KS gov made a huge mistake to not save the old Electric Theater which was very similar to the KCMO Folly and Orpheum Theaters inside. It could have been a wonderful live performance theater incorporated into all of the re-development in the that two block area. Seems like it is always the theaters that get demolished. Saving the Avenue as a real Community Theater would have been a very smart move.
I would have loved to have seen the new Star Wars movie in this beautiful historic Theater.
Whoever Aladdin Rose is – I would appreciate it if you would call me at 816 813-3664
I see the pic with the damage but cannot place the location. The auditorium’s roof is completely covered with a metal roof and doubt it that was damaged. Maybe this is one of the side buildings. Not sure if the back of the theater where the screen and speakers once were was covered by the metal roof, so it could be that or one of the side buildings. It needs to be repaired by someone. Have all the church furnishings been removed. If not, I would buy the Hammond Organ and Leslie Speaker because I originally sold it to that church to the older church owner. Someone needs to let me know. AS for the the auditorium. All of the drop ceiling and the side wall paneling needs to be removed. There is damage to the ceiling from the old rug cleaning company but that could be repaired – it is a sprayed on insulation between the beams. The lights in the ceiling are pretty cool. The Heating and AC would need to be completely redone and also the plumbing but it could be done as a non profit organization. The Aladdin could be home to many of the fine Hispanic Movies available but would require digital project and sound. It would be a pretty major effort, but I think a lot of donations would come in to do it. The company that did the liter weighted beautiful neon marquee could probably replicate a new Marquee and blade sign at a reasonable price. I know the Eastside is in pretty bad shape but the Mayor as insisted that moneys be allocated to improve the Eastside of KC – so Grants are always available but they must be written up and submitted – Federal, State and Local. It is a treasure well worth saving. It could also be a local live performance venue and movie theater, just put the new screen on a roll about frame to be moved to the back wall and build out the stage floor about 10 feet. A lot of vintage items could be acquired from Wade Williams and the Fine Arts Group. I know they would be excited and helpful.
I think there may have been a different theater in Boston than what you are talking about. It was designed by the same company the built the Orpheum Theaters in New Orleans, Kansas City and St.Louis. Maybe it was not known as the Orpheum in Boston, but was on the same circuit in the early days. Today’s Orpheum Theater in Boston is not the same theater that was part of the group of theaters built at the same time with a similar design. I will try to find out more about it. However, with that said, I am so grateful that the Boston Paramount has been saved and is beautiful again and also the theater up the street which I think is called The Lyric.
I remember my Dad and I going to the KIMO to see the movie – A Raisin in the Sun. It had an exclusive run at the KIMO and did very well. Ruby Dee and her husband Ozzie Davis were there for opening night along with a sky Light. It was a pretty big deal for Kansas City and it all happened at The Kimo.
The name change for the Kimo was The Festival Theater – it was both a live performance venue and some of the better art films that competed with the Fine Arts Theater. It was really beautiful and the vintage Marquee was repaired with fresh neon and when lit up looked fantastic. I was able to get two of the side wall light fixtures that were identical to the ones that were in the Aladdin Theater. I got parts of those but the pieces were pretty usless without the rest of the fixture. The rug cleaning company that took over the Aladdin Theater building took off those faces to just have the lights showing. I ended up giving my pieces to Rick’s Mom of Rick’s Rock and Roll Club when he was doing reserve duty. Not sure if they were re-installed or now. As for the Kimo – it was completely destroyed when it became a XXX house with live nude performances. Sad loss for Midtown.
I remember when the Gladstone Theater closed – many of the interior things were moved to the Ritz – new screen, new Stage Curtain, Wall Light Fixtures and also seats only to be cut up within a very short time by area teen thugs. It was a very nice theater in the day and I went there with my family when I was young. There was a cry room for mother’s with little ones and it got used quite often. Fantastic Popcorn.
I have pics of the Ritz and will scan and post when I come across them.
I just heard that the old theater building and the entire just sold – I wonder who bought it and what are they going to do with it. It obviously needs a lot of work but that beautiful streetscape is well worth some work on it. By the way, they theater actually closed in 1959 and NOT 1964.
Patton had an exclusive run at the Empire Theater and it was probably the last 70 mm film there with the curved very large Cinerama screen.
The Emerald became the PIX Theater in the early 50s but was closed around 1955.
I am pretty sure that the Theater was converted to a roller rink but still retained the marquee and much of the movie theater decor – similar to what was horribly done to the beautiful Gladstone Theater.
It was a nice theater and beautiful when lit up at night. The front half of the theater was demolish and the back half became a plumbing supply store – that part of the building is still standing.
Did the Roanoke Theater become the Glen Theater or was that another one?
Wish someone could post a pic of the Vista when it was operating as a theater.
The Rockhill Theater was very beautiful – I remember when the wreckers pulled down that beautiful Marquee and put a very ugly modern canopy and sign in its place . I think it happened in 1965.
After the Benton Theater closed, it because a Dry Cleaning company and Shirt Laundry. For about 15 years the marquee actually remained on the front of the building. I think it was called “One Hour Dry Cleaning ” or something like that. It occupied the Lobby and a part of the auditorium but not a lot. The Seats, and movie equipment had been removed but not much of anything else – you could certainly tell it was a nice theater at one time. I know it was reported that it closed in 1952 but I am pretty sure that it was in the Summer of 1953. Someone once told me that much of the theater equipment was taken to a closed theater on 9th Street in the hope that it would re-open. I do not even know what theater that would have been. I do remember it lit up at night and it was very nice with a lot of Neon and small white lights – very similar to the Uptown Theater – pretty sure the same company designed and build both Marquee’s.
Sad loss for Downtown Des Moines, IS I know that the also lost the River Hills and the Riviera. Loved those theaters.
Still looking for pictures of the Aladdin Theater in the early 50s when it was still operating. It was a beautiful theater inside and out. The Pink and Grey Painting in 1955 covered up some real beauty inside. I went there many times when I was young, especially the Summer Saturday Morning 10:00 Movie Series where nearly ever kid in the neighborhood attended. It was nearly capacity at every one of those showings. The Sunday matinee’s were the same – at near capacity from most of the kids in the neighborhood. Previews, Newsreal, a cartoon and usually two movies all for about $.50. Wow, those were the days. It was so beautiful when lit up at night – a lot of neon and dancing lights.
The Roxy and the Fox were horrible losses for North America.
I remember seeing the beautiful Lyric Theater just around the corner from the slightly larger Saenger Theater. It was beautiful and contained a lot of Italian Marble. It had a larger performing arts stage. It was sadly destroy to open up that block to a park. The theater should have been saved – it was a gem in the South and actually a much better theater for acoustics than the Saenger. Where was the public outcry especially since in the 60s it was considered one of the finest in North America. We have a real problem in the USA in discarding our heritage.
It was a terrible shame when it was turned into a video store that is now close. I would love to see returned to an art theater similar to the Varsity but to redo it to look like it did as the Uptown.
Great story – I enjoyed our conversation Don – after we spoke I did remember that the wide screen and matting from the Orpheum Theater used for The Robe was indeed taken over to the Uptown Theater even though the Orpheum was not part of the Fox Midwest Chain. It was being prepared for demolition and I think that took place in early 1960. The demolition of the Orpheum Theater was contracted with the same company that destroyed the Tower and the Esquire Theater. The demolition was delayed because there was a serious plan to save the facade of the Orpheum because it was a replica of the famous Paris Opera House and so was the Lobby. I think there was a lot of happy people thinking this would be nice to still have. With regret, the demolition company began with the roof in the front and the facade was seriously damaged within the first couple of days of demolition, so the plan to save it was scrapped. Very sad loss to KC (both the Tower and the Orpheum). They were both among the most beautiful theaters in North America even nicer than most of the Broadway Theaters and had much larger stages and back and below stage facilities and dressing rooms.