Liberty Theater

133 E. Maple Street,
Columbus, KS 66725

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The Liberty Theater opened in 1904 as the McGhee Theater. It operated as a venue for live shows until 1911, when it began showing movies.

In 1925, the theater was nearly destroyed by fire, but was renovated. It continued showing movies until the 1970’s, when it was converted into a disco.

When the disco craze bottomed out, it became the home for several businesses. But, currently, the theater is empty.

Interestingly, the old ornate ticket booth that once stood outside the theater was sold to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C., where it is kept in storage and used for special occasions.

Contributed by Paul Salley

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

William
William on December 5, 2003 at 9:16 am

The Liberty Theatre seated 480 people.

deleted user
[Deleted] on February 9, 2007 at 7:23 am

A Reproduco automatic piano/organ unit may have been used at this theater at one time. These instruments are collectors items today.

billrobinson
billrobinson on February 17, 2012 at 6:48 pm

DURING THE LATE 40’S AND EARLY 50’S, COLUMBUS HAD THE LIBERTY AND STATE THEATERS. 480 SEATS FOR THE LIBERTY SOUNDS CORRECT. BUT, 1200+ FOR THE STATE SEEMS HIGH—800 OR MAYBE 900. IN THE EARLY 50’S THERE WERE ALSO 2 DRIVE-INS, THE COLUMBUS AND THE CHEROKEE…DIRECTLY ACROSS FROM EACH OTHER ABOUT ¼ MILE SOUTH OF MAPLE ST. ON HI-WAY US 69. THEIR POPULARITY CAUSED THE LIBERTY AND THE STATE TO GO OUT OF BUSINESS, PROBABLY IN THE LATE 60’S. THE LIBERTY HAD A BALCONY, AND A “SIDE STAIRWAY” FOR THE COLORED MINORITY TO USE..(I’M SAD TO SAY.) WHILE I WAS GROWING UP THERE, IT WAS RAN BY A MR.HUSTON AND HIS LADY. THE PUGHS RAN THE STATE, AND THE COLUMBUS DRIVE-IN. AS I RECALL, THE LIBERTY HAD AN ART DECO STYLE AND WAS VERY NICE. THE STATE WAS BUILT LATER THAN THE LIBERTY AND WAS MORE ‘INSTITUTIONAL’. I BELIEVE THEY BOTH HAD ‘CRY ROOMS’ WHICH MOTHERS COULD TAKE THEIR NOISY BABIES TO, BUT STILL SEE THE MOVIE, AND THE SOUND WAS PIPED INTO THE MOSTLY SOUND-PROOF RMS. I LEFT COLUMBUS IN 1960 FOR COLLEGE, SO MY MEMORY IS NOT PERFECT. I ALSO REMEMBER THE 2 DRIVE-INS IN PITTSBURG, KS. THE REALLY BEAUTIFUL ONE WAS THE 69 DRIVE IN, ON HI-WAY 69, SOUTH OF PITTSBURG…WHICH IS NOW LANGDON LN. AT ONE TIME, PITTSBURG ALSO HAD 3 INDOOR THEATERS: THE COZY, THE COLONIAL, AND THE MIDLAND. IF ANYONE WOULD LIKE MORE INFO, LET ME KNOW. I’M ALSO QUITE FAMILIAR WITH MOVIE HOUSES THAT EXISTED IN JOPLIN, MO.

madisonking
madisonking on March 3, 2013 at 8:33 pm

I am a vocal music student at PSU and I married a Columbus HS graduate. We went on the bus tour last fall during Columbus Days and the guide said it was and opera house? I assume that is what the above information means by used for live performances. PSU has a active music performance program so hearing about an old theater that isn’t used anymore was sad. Could it still be renovated and used for live performances again? Does anyone have pictures of the old inside? If I was older and had more money I would consider investing in the renovation and frequent use of this facility to further interest in performing arts!

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