Ben Bolt Theatre

828 Washington Street,
Chillicothe, MO 64601

Unfavorite No one has favorited this theater yet


The Ben Bolt Theatre was opened in 1949.

Unfortunately, this late Art Moderne gem was demolished in 1999.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 12 comments)

claydoh77 on February 10, 2005 at 7:19 am

Hi dterry, I have a vintage black & white photo postcard with interior & exterior views of this theatre. Send your email or post it here and I will send you a scan of it.

EGilson on April 1, 2005 at 3:24 pm

My grandfather, Max Thomas (I always called him Papa) was the General Manager of the Ben Bolt for many years. I have forwarded this page to my mother, his daughter, Mica Thomas Duncan. I am sure that she can add much more to this page than I can.

I would visit Papa in Chillicothe every summer, spending every night of the week in the balcony of the Ben Bolt eating popcorn and drinking pop. The old projector operator Lee would sometimes allow me into the projector room to watch the movie from there.

Last year I returned to the area to lay Papa to rest. The absence of the old Ben Bolt is akin to a missing front tooth on Washington Street. Does anyone remember my Papa Max Thomas?

micat on April 1, 2005 at 4:57 pm

“There is change in the things I loved, Ben Bolt. They have changed from the old to the new; but I feel in the depths of my spirit the truth-there never as change in you” (Thomas Dunn English, “Ben Bolt”, circa, 1890)

My father, Max Thomas managed the Ben Bolt from 1977 until he retired in 1989. The theater was like one of his children. He was proud of it’s beauty. The child aged with grace and he was saddened when it was gone.

In May, 1994 my father turned 75 and my brother Phil and I gave him a surprise birthday party in the lobby of the theater. Even used the old concession stand for popcorn and pop. The venue was a perfect place to celebrate the man we loved in a place he gave so much of himself to. They are both missed.

dictionary101 on September 7, 2005 at 3:38 am

Does anyone know when the theater closed and when it was demolished? Obviously, by the comments directly above, those things happened in 1989 or later.


Dateline on July 7, 2007 at 8:57 pm

I was news editor of the Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune and watched with dismay out my window as the wrecking ball brought down the Ben Bolt. It was a fabulous building and from what the man said who was contracted to take it down, it was a well-built structure.
I edited a history book (Dateline-Livingston County / A look at local history) in 2001 and, of course, included some information (several news stories) and a photo of the Ben Bolt. I am, again, publishing another history book similar to the first Dateline and am looking for a photograph or two that I could include in the book. I’m under the gun now and would need any submissions before mid-July 2007. The book is due at the publishers by Oct. 1. Anyone who would like to help may reply to I really like the full color photo of (if I remember correctly), Max Thomas in front of the building. The picture was taken at night with the colorful neon lights behind. We used that photograph in our special tribute to the Ben Bolt in 1999. It is a shame that it was torn down. From what I have learned through reading old newspaper articles, it certainly was a jewel for the community. (I didn’t arrive in Chillicothe until 1992)
After a long day at the office today, I just typed in “Ben Bolt Chillicothe” and stumbled across this website. Thanks for reading.

JohnMessick on December 15, 2007 at 1:52 pm

So what has been built on the site, since the Ben Bolt was demolished?

JohnMessick on December 15, 2007 at 1:58 pm

How could I purchase a photo of Mr. Max Thomas in front of the Ben Bolt(the picture that dateline describes in the above post)? I came across a picture of the Ben Bolt on the CinemaTour website and would like to add it to my collection

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 5, 2009 at 12:26 am

The July 2, 1949, issue of Boxoffice has an architect’s rendering of the proposed Ben Bolt Theatre. It, too, attributes the design to Boller & Lusk.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on March 25, 2011 at 6:00 pm

Unless I missed it somewhere up above BOXOFFICE reported the Ben Bolt was to be transformed into a Triple Theatre.The Downstairs theatre will have 350 seats and the two upstairs theatres will seat 200.Dolby Sound.Suppose to be ready for mid summer 1985. Source BOXOFFICE June 1985.

TLSLOEWS on March 26, 2011 at 10:56 am

Streamline Moderne was the thing in the 1940’s,very nice marquee for all you marquee people like me.

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment

Subscribe Want to be emailed when a new comment is posted about this theater?
Just login to your account and subscribe to this theater