Thespian Hall Theatre

522 Main Street,
Boonville, MO 65233

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Thespian Hall Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Thespian Hall was built in 1855-7 for use by the Thespian Society, which contained reading rooms, a library and a theater. The second floor was used as a City Hall and also by the Masonic Order.

It was a Greek Revival-style edifice with four towering columns supporting a pediment.

When it opened on July 4, 1857, a ball was held there to celebrate its opening.

A few years later, during the Civil War, Thespian Hall served as a hospital and later, barracks.

In 1869, a German-American music society, the Turn and Gesang Verein, leased the theater portion of the hall, while an armory was set up in the basement (towards the end of the 19th century, the basement was converted into a roller skating rink).

In 1901, Lon V. Stephens rescued the Thespian Hall from demolition, and hired St Louis architect J.L Howard to remodel it into the Stephens Opera House. It would then serve for over a decade as one of the main venues for touring stage shows in the state after St. Louis and Kansas City.

In 1912, it was again transformed, this time into a movie theater, the Lyric, which it would remain for another six decades, closing in 1975.

When the Lyric was once more was faced with the threat of being demolished, in 1937, the Friends of Historic Boonville was formed to prevent the loss of the great old theater, one of the earliest preservation groups founded in the Midwest, and the first in Missouri.

Aided financially by the Kemper Foundations, the group took over the theater in 1975, and began the long task of restoring it to its original appearance.

In 1969, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Today, Thespian Hall Theatre is used for performing arts, concerts as well as community functions. It is the home of the Boonville Community Theater and the annual Missouri River Festival of the Arts.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on January 9, 2007 at 5:05 pm

Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1969

Lyric Theater *** (added 1969 – Building – #69000097)
Also known as Thespian Hall
NE corner of Main and Vine Sts., Boonville
Historic Significance: Event, Architecture/Engineering
Architect, builder, or engineer: Unknown
Architectural Style: Greek Revival
Area of Significance: Architecture, Performing Arts, Politics/Government
Period of Significance: 1850-1874
Owner: Private
Historic Function: Recreation And Culture
Historic Sub-function: Theater
Current Function: Recreation And Culture
Current Sub-function: Theater

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on January 9, 2007 at 6:51 pm

Here is a photo of the Thespian Hall Theater.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on July 16, 2007 at 8:18 pm

A postcard view of the Lyric can be seen at this website.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on August 5, 2008 at 9:51 pm

Another photo can be seen here.

Tinseltoes on July 1, 2012 at 9:49 am

This building has been a theatre since 1857: boxofficemagazine

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