Plaza Theater

4700-08 Wyandotte Street,
Kansas City, MO 64112

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WTKFLHN on October 21, 2012 at 5:06 pm

I just want to comment on the Plaza’s seating capacity as a former employee. Before the theatre was cut up into 3 screens, and before they put in the extra large screen for “The Guns of Naveronne, 70mm engagement which brought the screen out in front of the arch and covered the orchestra pit, and the removal on the organ, the seating was 1800, 600 hundred in the balcony, and 1200 on the 1st floor.

WTKFLHN on October 21, 2012 at 4:50 pm

I also have some memories of the stage shows they had there from time to time. One in particular, was the appearance of Dunninger, a mind reading act. The lady who would rent the theatre, didn’t generally use ushers. But I told the assistant mgr.I would work for free, if I could see the show, and she agreed. We went up to the balcony, which was closed, and watched the show, which was sold out on the 1st floor. The guy working with me was a skeptic, and thought that Dunninger was using plants in the audience. After the show, we went back stage to meet him. He was very nice to us. He explained to my friend that he was a mind reader, and could only tell what you knew in your mind, and was not a clairvoyant. He asked my friend if he knew how much change was in his change his pocket. My friend didn’t know, but he went off to check it. When he came back, Dunninger looked at him and said, “39 cents”. The guys jaw dropped and he said,“That’s right”. I don’t, to this day, know how he did it, but I was impressed.

Tinseltoes on August 8, 2012 at 10:16 am

Advantages of the Plaza’s parking lot described in this 1929 trade article: archive

WTKFLHN on August 3, 2012 at 2:46 pm

I was an usher at the Plaza for about 3 yrs in the mid1950’s. I have some great memories of the theatre as a single screen. It was a sub-run theatre back then, meaning we got the movies 28 days after they left the 1st run houses. I remember the week we played “The man who knew too much” with James Stewart. I have never seen a movie grip an audience like that one did. We were sold out on Saturday nite, and the movie had the audience in its grip. When something on the screen exciting happened, the entire audience would gasp as if it was one person. No one would get out of their seats to get popcorn. It was quite and experience.

rivoli157 on November 18, 2011 at 9:21 am

never got to see this as a single screen. By the time I got to Kansas City it had been divided up. I do recall seeing “S.O.B.” “Rhinestone Cowboy”,“Blow-Out” and “Hardcore”. Visually the theatre was a stunning sight as you entered the Country Club Plaza area

jda661 on March 15, 2010 at 2:56 pm

I was the person who came in to replace the Manager in 1979. I was there for 12-18 months (stayed til after the Dickinson take over). It was a great theatre. as RT says, the theatre was more a victim of it’s time than the fact of the multiplexes. There was nothing really that could compete with the picture except the Big Glenwood or the Midland downtown.

seymourcox on September 15, 2009 at 12:03 pm

This site has photos of the Plaza Theatre, along with other KC theatres -
View link

jimfagin on July 28, 2009 at 9:06 am

My late father, Breck Fagin, was the Plaza Theatre’s first manager. I have a black and white photograph of him from about 1930 standing in front of the theatre aside a big birthday cake that says “Plaza Theatre’s 2nd Anniversary”. I will post it on this website when the site is again able to accept photos.

luvmtains777 on September 20, 2008 at 12:03 am

The manager from 1979 was arrested in a sting operation for re-selling tickets around 1981 and he had been there quite a long time. I won’t name names but I doubt it was any poster in here since that manager was quite old back then. The plaza theater was a Mann Theater before it became part of the Dickinson chain. Other interesting facts about this theater was that it had tunnels that ran underneath the theater and it also housed upstairs dressing rooms on the south side that were accessed by stairs behind the stage. The stage itself was quite large and remnants of the pulleys and stage props existed at least into the late 70s.

The flood that the entire Plaza experienced in 1977 also affected the theater to some degree. About 2 feet of water was in the lobby and the entire basement was flooded. Through the foyer were steps up to the second theater (the old balcony) but underneath the foyer were steps leading down to the restrooms so there were some areas that patrons used which were completely underwater but not destroyed by the flood.

The Plaza was one of the last theaters around to use carbon arcs in the projectors. I believe they still used those in the upstairs projectors until the early 80s.

Steve Martin visited this theater unannounced when the movie the Jerk was playing.

I seem to remember the downstairs as having around 960 seats. I believe the last sell out for the larger theater was the Goodbye Girl on opening week-end,

It was not only the multiplexes that buried this theater but the change in business model away from exclusive rights to a movie for just one theater in all of the kc area. Once you had movie openings in multiple locations, sell outs in the larger theaters like the Plaza or the Glenwood were gone.

cerjda on August 28, 2008 at 6:59 pm

That picture from 1979 was when I managed that place. I couldn’t say for certain, but I can’t imagine that theatre having 1950. Those seats seemed to have been there forever and i’m thinking it was like 1650 between the 2 auditoriums and when they built the downstairs projections booth, they only lost like 100 seats.

edblank on May 21, 2008 at 2:59 pm

Saw “White Witch Doctor” here in the summer of 1953. A memorably beautiful theater. – Ed Blank

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on April 27, 2008 at 6:57 am

Here’s a new link to a 1940 image described above on 3/20/07:
View link

Aparofan on April 27, 2008 at 6:38 am

Here’s a picture from 1997. From the book The Plaza First And Always by William S. Worley.

View link

spectrum on September 26, 2007 at 6:46 pm

According to the 1936 Americal Film review annual, the Plaza had 1,950 seats.

mlind on July 5, 2007 at 10:54 am

There is a boring multi-plex on the Plaza now.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on July 5, 2007 at 6:37 am

Yes, thanks! We have Restoration Hardware in New York as well. I thought that the Plaza’s premises were too large for just an ordinary hardware store.

mlind on July 4, 2007 at 5:31 pm

Restoration Hardware occupies the site. If you’re not familiar with it, they sell home decorating items, not screwdrivers or saws.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on July 4, 2007 at 8:21 am

I’m surprised that the introduction lists no seating capacity. Various Film Daily Year Books claim 1.950. If the threatre presently houses a hardware store, it could be a large one, such as Home Depot.

Aparofan on July 3, 2007 at 5:36 pm

Here’s a picture of the marquee from 1979. From the book Great American Movie Theaters by David Naylor.

View link

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on March 26, 2007 at 6:14 am

In 1940, the Plaza created a political furor with this marquee display. The title of the feature movie, “The Man Who Talked Too Much,” was interpreted as criticism of Presidential candidate Wendell Willkie, who was the topic of the “Information Please” short subject:

RobbKCity on December 23, 2006 at 12:59 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.

tazirk on October 4, 2006 at 9:00 am

I visited the theater recently and visited with Restoration Hardware employees. The only plaster damage that happend during renovation was the removal of the stairs to the balconey and removal of the fountain. However, if restoration is to happen at somepoint in the future, the stairs were nearly identical to the ones in the Granadas of both KC and Emporia. I could not gain access to the auditorium and had to take their word for it that they had not further altered the auditorium. From a visit previously when it was still a theater, I talked to the theater management. They said that when the balcony was partitioned that the plasterwork was preserved and just enclosed in the walls that were constructed and that restoratioin at a future date would be fairly easily done.

swdailey on September 6, 2006 at 8:26 am

Restoration Hardware completely renovated the space. Nothing of the interior of the theater remains. But, Dickinson had butchered it in the ensuing years anyway. The Palace was not open at the same time as the Plaza, so it wasn’t directly responsible for its demise, by the way.