Rodgers Theatre

204-224 N. Broadway Street,
Poplar Bluff, MO 63901

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Rodgers Theatre

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The Rodgers Theatre was opened in 1949 and is a great example of late Art Moderne architecture.

It was built for I. W. Rodgers, who opened his first theater in Poplar Bluff in 1914, eventually acquiring almost all of the theaters in town.

The Rodgers had 1160 ‘Bodyform’ seats in its auditorium, a balcony, and a crying room, which had a soundproof glass window which allowed mothers to still view the movie.

Early ads for the Rodgers made much of the fact that it was air-conditioned and heated, and was hailed as the most modern theater between Saint Louis and Memphis when it opened.

Its front doors were made of solid walnut, and the circular shaped main lobby contained leather benches and a concession stand. Staircases led up to the balcony and down to the restrooms.

Also as part of the Rodgers Building, there was a dime store on the main floor and offices above the theater.

The Rodger’s marquee was illuminated by neon lighting, and contained a tower with the name of the theater in large red letters, as well as multicolored panels behind the tower.

The first film shown at the Rodgers was Red Canyon with George Brent and Ann Blyth. Close to 2000 people attended the opening day festivities, including the mayor of Pine Bluff, who cut the ribbon and purchased the first ticket.

In the ensuing years, the ticket booth was closed, and the theater was divided into two screens.

The theater was sold by the Rodgers family to the Kerasotes chain in 1966, which continued to operate the theater until it was closed in 1999, due to the chain’s opening a new multiplex theater nearby.

After closing the Rodgers, Kerasotes donated the theater to Butler County. Since 2007, the Rodgers Theatre has hosted ocassional live concerts with proceeds going to the theater’s ongoing restoration. County offices are now located in the former theater office space on the second floor.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

kateymac01
kateymac01 on May 6, 2005 at 3:05 pm

I heard this theater has been renovated and reopened for live performances. Is that true?

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on May 22, 2006 at 6:37 pm

Here is an interesting article about the Rodgers:
http://tinyurl.com/p7bed

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on September 4, 2007 at 10:13 pm

CW Rodgers was president of Rodgers Theaters Inc. in 1963. Rodgers also operated the Ritz and Starvue Drive-In in Blytheville, AR, the Anna Drive-In and Rodgers in Anna, IL, the Gem in Cairo, IL, the Varsity in Carbondale, IL as well as the Poplar Bluff Drive-In in Missouri.

jennlynndesign
jennlynndesign on September 26, 2008 at 11:42 pm

The Rodgers Theater is currently open! They just had a re-opening concert featuring Lily Tomlin (Sept 19th, 2008).

They are listed as a 501(3)C Non-Profit. I am so exciting and honored to be the webmaster. I remember going to the Rodgers as a teen! I will post a link to the site when it is running!

jennlynndesign
jennlynndesign on January 6, 2009 at 5:56 pm

I am happy to post that we have a site up for the Rodgers!

http://historicrodgers.org

If you would like to register for News & Events:
View link

DonLewis
DonLewis on April 12, 2009 at 11:43 pm

A view from 1996 of the Rodgers here and here.

bodkin6071
bodkin6071 on May 3, 2009 at 9:24 pm

Picture from October 1985:
View link

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on January 19, 2010 at 1:18 am

I like the 1954 photo on the theater website, which was posted on 1/6/09.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on February 2, 2010 at 10:23 pm

Nice looking marquee.

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