Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland
1228 Main Street,
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The Loew’s Midland Theatre was designed by architect Thomas W. Lamb for Loew’s Inc., opening on October 28, 1927 with Ramon Novarro in “The Road to Romance”. Films stars Ramon Novarro, Aileen Pringle & Charles ‘Buddy’ Rogers attended the opening ‘in person’. There was a stage show and organist P. Hans-Flath played the Robert-Morton 4 manual 20 ranks organ. It originally seated 4,100 patrons, with 2,000 in orchestra, 600 in mezzanine and 1,500 in balcony levels, and was built for a staggering $4 and a half million – quite an amount for a theatre in Kansas City in its day.
The organ went out of use in 1946 and on January 31, 1961, Loew’s Inc. vacated the building. The front orchestra level was raised to stage level and a bowling alley was created, opening on October 20, 1961. The organ was overhauled and played during the intermissions of National Bowling League games. This venture only lasted three months.
In early-1962 it was taken over by the Durwood Theatres chain and it was renamed Saxon Theatre, reopening on March 16, 1962 with Glenn Ford in “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”. The organ console was moved to the rear of the stage to be stored and was later sold together with the organ ranks and installed in the Old Plantation Restaurant, Soland Beach, CA. (it has since been removed from that location). The lower smoking lounge was converted into a mini theatre named the Studio and a third 93 seat theatre was created out of former retail space and was known as the Screening Room. All three screens closed in the summer of 1962 due to lack of air conditioning.
All three screens reopened July 14, 1965 as the Midland Theatre. Air conditioning had been installed and the main auditorium walls were covered over and draped. The projection booth was moved to the rear of the orchestra level and in 1962 “The Sound of Music” was presented.
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 Midland Theatre was listed on the National Registry of Historic Places on September 28, 1977 and stopped showing movies in its 3-screens on September 24, 1981. The drapes in the main auditorium have been removed and 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 White Lamb.
It was closed on May 13, 2006 for a major refurbishment, re-opening on September 9, 2008. By October 2016 it was known as the Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland.
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