Orpheum Theatre

204 South Wood Street,
Neosho, MO 64850

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The Orpheum Theatre was located in the downtown section of Neosho on South Wood at West Harmony Street.

Contributed by Chuck Van Bibber

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 6, 2011 at 7:44 am

Robert Boller was the architect of a 1953 remodeling of the Orpheum. The project included removing the stage and installing a CinemaScope screen. Boxoffice of January 6, 1954, said that the auditorium’s capacity had been increased by 25 seats as a result of the project.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on July 10, 2012 at 11:36 am

Here’s a link to an illustrated trade article about the wide screen installation: boxoffice

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 10, 2012 at 5:26 pm

Todd G. Higdon’s reminiscence about the Orpheum Theatre in the Neosho Daily News of March 7 this year says that the last movie he recalls seeing there was Moonstruck in 1988, so the house lasted at least that long. The Orpheum has since been demolished. There is a photo of the Orpheum on this Facebook page, with a 1951 movie on the marquee.

The Orpheum was advertising in the August 30, 1921, issue of the Neosho Daily Democrat, so it was in operation at least that early. A comment on this page of a Neosho community forum says that the Orpheum was built as an opera house. The 1906-1907 edition of Julius Cahn’s guide lists the Neosho Opera House as a 600-seat theater, but fails to mention if it was on the ground floor or not. Quite possibly this was the house that became the Orpheum, though if so it was a rather plain building for even a small town opera house, unless the facade had been remodeled before that 1951 photo was taken.

Other comments in the forum say that there were once theaters on all four sides of the town square in Neosho, including one called the Lux on the south side and one called the Bandbox on the west side.

I found a 1913 reference to a house in Neosho called the Lyric. One early movie house in Neosho was opened around 1907-1908 by A. V. Cauger, later the founder of the Kansas City Slide Company, one of Walt Disney’s early employers.

This web page, Neosho and High School, is from a memoir by Russel R. Windes, who became an usher at the Orpheum Theatre about 1944 at the age of fourteen. There are quite a few paragraphs about the operation of the theater, including a couple of funny anecdotes worth reading. Windes names the other two theaters operating in Neosho during the war years as the Carmar, named for owner Hugh Gardner’s daughters, Carolyn and Marilyn, and the Photosho. I don’t know if Photosho was an AKA for the Lux or Bandbox or not, but the Carmar shows up in this vintage photo showing the east side of the square, ca.1943.

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