Orpheum Theater

1214 Baltimore Avenue,
Kansas City, MO 64105

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Orpheum Theatre ca.1916

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This newer Orpheum Theater opened on December 26, 1914 and the old Orpheum was then left vacant and was later razed in 1922.

The new Orpheum was designed for a sumptuous experiences inside and out. Built to resemble the Paris Opera House, the exterior was faced with terra cotta designed to resemble Tennessee marble. Embedded along the top of the building’s facade were carved panels symbolically depicting art and music.

The lobby floor was enhanced with a random marble mosaic in figured patterns and panels. A spacious ladies lounge provided divans, lounging chairs, writing desks, telephones, and dressing tables as well as offering maid service. Inside the auditorium was a domed roof painted blue and highlighted with artificial stars. The main stage curtain was made of wire woven asbestos painted to resemble velvet drapery and weighed in excess of 1,200 pounds.

As motion pictures gained in popularity and vaudeville declined, the Orpheum owners tried to draw audiences with legitimate theater in the 1930s, motion pictures in the 1940s and legitimate theater again in the 1950s. These efforts proved to be unsuccessful at filling the theater’s seats, and in 1962, the Orpheum was brought down to make room for an addition to the Muehlebach Hotel.

Contributed by Paul Salley

Recent comments (view all 19 comments)

seymourcox
seymourcox on September 15, 2009 at 8:05 am

This site has photographs of many artists who performed on KC stages –

View link

KCB3Player
KCB3Player on October 7, 2009 at 3:06 pm

Does anyone of good interior pics of the Orpheum and Tower Theaters of Kansas City, And, any demolition pics that I know the KC Star ran in addition to pics and stories in Box Office Magazine? I would like to do an artical in the Pitch about the beautiful theaters that we lost espeically to surface Parking Lots. Any assitance will be most appreciated. If the pics are not public domain, I will do my best to get permission to use them.
Thanks,
Mike Gallagher
816 347-0487

KCB3Player
KCB3Player on January 9, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Still hoping to find some quality interior auditorium pics of the Tower and Orpheum. However, I am not interested in interior pics of all the old downtown KC movie palaces.
Any assistance will be most appreciated.
Mike Gallagher
816 347-0487

bobster1985
bobster1985 on June 9, 2013 at 8:40 pm

Mike, I have some photos of the Orpheum that I’m about to post to this site.

KCB3Player
KCB3Player on June 10, 2013 at 9:31 am

There were many theaters named Orpheum, however, there were seven that were disigned and built in a very similar style. These were the live performance Orpheum’s bult prior to 1920. The Kansas City Orpheum was considered to be the most beautiful of the seven and took on a look similar to the Paris Opera House both inside and outside. The St. Louis Orpheum looks very Ksimilar inside to the KC Theater and it indeed still in operation but the main floor has been tiered. The paint color sceme is very similar to what was done to the KC Orpheum in 1951 to spruce it up for the showing of The Robe – the very first Cinimascope Picture. The theater was beautiful and in prestine condition. It was a pride of Kansas City along with The Loew’s Midland Theater a block away. Many Kansas Citians were horrifid to learn that the Tower and the Orpheum would be raised in the same year. We also saw the loss of the Esquire which had been recently renovated by a local owner. I think we are all still waiting for pics to be posted by bobster1985 – hope he does have some pics. At one time, I had an interior pic with the curtain open showing the cinimascope screen but have been unable to find it. The New Orleans Orpheum and the St. Louis Orpheum have very similar exteriors. The interiors are again similar but not quite as opulent as the KC Orpheum was. The Boston Orpheum is now gone and so is the Madison, WS. The Omaha Orpheum was built in a similar style and was larger – more similar to the Loew’s Midland – still very beautiful and in use for Live Stage Shows.

KCB3Player
KCB3Player on June 10, 2013 at 9:33 am

Kansas City and St.Louis, MO had some of the most beautiful theaters in the country and most are gone. The worst horror story is the loss of the SF Fox and the NY Roxy.

bobster1985
bobster1985 on June 10, 2013 at 8:20 pm

Mike, I did post them yesterday. Aren’t you able to see them?

KCB3Player
KCB3Player on June 11, 2013 at 2:17 am

Yes – they are wonderful – do you have any interior pics of other theaters in KC?

bobster1985
bobster1985 on June 11, 2013 at 5:14 am

I’m afraid not, Mike. It sure was a beautiful theater, wasn’t it? How sad they let it be demolished, just like the Fox Theater here in San Francisco.

KCB3Player
KCB3Player on June 11, 2013 at 6:43 am

Even though I was a small boy, I remember that the recessed lighting was a Rose color off of the antique white and gold leaf – it was beautiful. The stage curtain was a beautiful crimson color and so were the redone seats. The orghestra seats were beutiful and taken over to the Tower Theater to prep it for the long run of Oklahoma. The screen was taking and installed at The Uptown Theater when it became obvious that it was going to be demolished. The facade was supposed to be saved for the new edition of the Hotel. Looking at what there is now – it is a crime that it was not saved.

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