Midland Theatre

1228 Main Street,
Kansas City, MO 64105

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Midland Theatre, Kansas City, MO in 1929 - Auditorium

Viewing: Photo | Street View

This large movie palace was designed by Thomas W. Lamb in 1927. It originally seated over 3,573 patrons and was built for a staggering $4 million — quite an amount for a theatre in Kansas City in its day.

Originaly known as Loew’s Midland Theatre, and part of Marcus Loew’s theatre empire, the theatre briefly became a bowling venue in 1961 when Loew’s left the theatre.

In 1966, American Multi-Cinema bought the theatre. A company known then for its innovations with smaller, twinned theaters now operated one of the largest movie palaces on earth.

The renamed Midland Theatre was listed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1977 and stopped showing movies September 24, 1981 when it became a venue for stage shows, concerts, and other peforming arts.

It remains one of the grandest movie palaces ever built in the United States and a testament to the heralded work of Thomas Lamb.

It was closed on May 13, 2006 for a major refurbishment, re-opening on September 9, 2008.

Contributed by Brooks

Recent comments (view all 62 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 18, 2012 at 4:13 am

Here is a paragraph from a January 16, 1926, article about the proposed Midland Theatre in The Reel Journal:

“T. W. Lamb, a New York architect, and Robert C. Boller, of Boller Bros., Kansas City architects, are preparing plans for the big four-story movie palace and office building. Contracts for the construction will be let as soon as plans are finished, it has been announced.”
As finally built, the theater portion of the project was six floors, rather than four, and the adjacent office tower had twelve floors.

It’s noted in the description on this page that the Midland Theatre cost $4,000,000 to build in 1926-27. The theater was indeed large and lavish, but I don’t think it accounted for the entire budget. The twelve story Midland Building at the back end of the theater has about three times the floor space of the theater portion of the project, and probably consumed at least half of that $4,000,000 construction cost.

Here is a 1927 photo showing the office building and theater under construction, taken from the office building end of the project.

CSWalczak on June 19, 2012 at 1:33 am

It gets barely a mention in this article, but AMC is giving up control of the Midland to the Cordish Company, its former partner in operating both the Midland the Main Street theaters. It had been previously announced that Cordish had signed an agreement with Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas to operate the Main Street Theater.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 19, 2012 at 6:11 pm

This page needs the AKA’s Saxon Theatre and Studio Theatre, per the Boxoffice article Tinseltoes linked to.

Carlj on January 19, 2013 at 11:11 am

The Midland no longer shows any movies. It’s main use today is for smaller concerts. They removed all of the seats from the lower level. I remeber seeing The Empire Strikes Back here back in the day.

Infanma on July 7, 2013 at 6:01 pm

Not sure what it was called, but I remember the VERY small auditorium in what seemed like the basement of the Midland. One of the posted articles mentioned The Screening Room.I’m not sure it was named that, but I saw many movies there, including Midnight Cowboy.

KCB3Player on August 15, 2014 at 7:53 pm

I thought I might add this bit of information. After the Loew’s Midland Theater Closed, it was converter in the Stage are to a Pro Bowling Facility. That lasted for only several months and then folded because the other pro bowling team had their competitions at the old Plaza Bowl. With in two months an owner of major surfact parking lots in Kansas City wanted to get a permit from the City to demolish the Midland Theater leaving only the Midland Tower. What is really insane is that the City was actually going to issue the demolition permit. At the same time, there were plans to demolish the Tower and Esquire Theaters also for surface parking lots – that did not happen because of a contract dispute between the owners of the theaters and Fox Midwest Theaters that had open contracts to use the Buildings and they were still paying taxes even though the theaters were closed. It is very sad to think that the beautiful Midland Theater was very close to being lost forever. Sadly we lost the Tower, Esquire and Orpheum Theaters in 1961 all in beautiful condition.

rivest266 on July 30, 2015 at 12:02 pm

March 16th, 1962 grand opening ad for the Saxon as well as the March 23rd, 1962 ad for the Studio in photo section. Durwood’s first twin, not the Parkway.

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on December 25, 2015 at 6:18 pm

The Loew’s Midland was equipped with a 4/20 Robert Morton pipe organ, sadly long since lost.

JAlex on December 26, 2015 at 1:46 pm

The Midland’s organ is not lost…it is now installed at the nearby Civic Center Music Hall.

OKCdoorman on January 24, 2016 at 4:52 pm

On the day of the Apollo 15 moon landing, AMC opened the Midland 3 (combining the Midland with The Screening Room and the Studio Theatres under one name literally overnight) on Friday, July 30, 1971, with Sean Connery in THE ANDERSON TAPES (the ‘old’ Midland) while adding in their respective ‘new’ auditoriums Debbie Reynolds in Curtis Harrington’s WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH HELEN? (prev. Screening Room) and Woody Allen in BANANAS (prev. Studio). There was no explanation for this new iteration.

The Midland 3 and the Empire 4 on 14th & Main were suddenly combined without explanation by AMC to create the Midland-Empire 7 on Wednesday, September 11, 1974. The Midland itself would be listed first as Auditorium 1 in the new designation. It was showing Rollin Binzer’s 1973 documentary LADIES & GENTLEMEN, THE ROLLING STONES.

AMC closed the Midland/Midland 3 permanently on Thursday, September 24, 1981 while leaving the previous Empire 4 open. The Midland was showing Tony Anthony’s 3D import COMIN' AT YA! (the features changed the next day so much at the remaining Empire that it’s impossible to tell what the Midland’s other two auditoriums were showing at closing, perhaps THE ELEPHANT MAN & ORDINARY PEOPLE going by descending listed order).

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