Alamo Drafthouse Mainstreet

1400 Main Street,
Kansas City, MO 64105

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Alamo Drafthouse Mainstreet

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The 3,000-plus seat Mainstreet Theatre opened in October 30, 1921, the only theater in Kansas City designed by the Chicago firm of Rapp & Rapp. Its interior design was French Baroque style and the exterior a blend of Neo-Classical and French Empire styles. The lobby area is topped by a dome encircled by circular windows.

It was the first theater in Kansas City to contain a nursery for parents attending shows. The Mainstreet Theatre also featured an underground tunnel which connected it to the nearby President Hotel. Also, its basement and sub-basement contained space for animals used in the elaborate vaudeville shows put on at the theater, including cages for animals as large as elephants (and elevators big enough to carry them up to the stage) and pools for seals.

From the time the Mainstreet Theatre opened until 1938, it was part of the so-called “Junior Orpheum” circuit, and among the famous names to play its stage were Charlie Chaplin and Cab Calloway.

The Mainstreet Theatre closed for the first time in 1938, briefly reopened in 1941, and remained closed until 1949, when it was reopened by the RKO circuit, as a movie palace, called the RKO Missouri Theatre. In 1960, it was renamed the Empire Theatre, and was for several years a Cinerama house. The Empire Theatre closed once again in 1985.

Though plans to turn it into a Planet Hollywood-style entertainment venue and eatery were floated, it never came to fruition. Its owner was then seeking to demolish the historic (though not landmarked) structure, but local preservationists sought to save the former Empire Theatre. The Empire Theatre was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in February 2006.

In September 2008, work began to convert the theatre into a six-screen movie theatre. It reopened in April 2009, and reverted back to its original name Mainstreet Theatre. The two largest theatres have 300 seats each, and the smaller theatres will have 50 to 100 seats. On Novermber 15, 2012, it became the Alamo Drafthouse Mainstreet.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 112 comments)

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on July 17, 2012 at 3:29 pm

Conversion to Empire Theatre described in this 1961 trade article: Boxoffice

KCB3Player
KCB3Player on July 18, 2012 at 2:02 pm

Tinseltoes – I have enjoyed seeing the different changes of the RKO Missouri (Mainstreet Theater). Do you have a ref of the changes that were made to the Liberty to the Roxy theater that also appeared in Box Office. The Roxy was a beautiful little Durwood Theater (actually their 2nd theater in KC)

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on July 25, 2012 at 8:05 am

Here we go again! Creation of Empire 1 described in this 1967 trade article: Boxoffice

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on July 29, 2012 at 11:17 am

First wold premiere in Kansas City in 18 years for this now forgotten epic: Boxoffice

KingBiscuits
KingBiscuits on August 22, 2012 at 4:46 pm

Actually, I would say the Drafthouse company taking over is the best thing to happen to this theatre. This is a theatre that should be getting exclusives and indie fare (instead of playing the same movies as everyone else) and this company does just that. Also, you never read a bad thing about the Drafthouse chain and they know everything that is right about filmgoing.

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on October 2, 2012 at 12:16 am

The Mainstreet is closing temporarily for conversion to the Alamo Drafthouse format; reopening is estimated to be around November 15, 2012. View article

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on November 15, 2012 at 11:31 pm

This theater has reopened as the Alamo Drafthouse Mainstreet; the seat counts in some of the theaters has been reduced is some of the screening rooms. View article

WTKFLHN
WTKFLHN on December 30, 2012 at 6:29 pm

I can remember going to the Missouri and seeing a movie and sitting in the front row by the Orchestra pit to see a “Blackstone, the magician” show around 1950, I think. He made a canary in a small cage disappear and I got to check his coat sleeves to make sure he didn’t have it there.

Carlj
Carlj on January 19, 2013 at 10:21 am

Our parents took my sister and I here Christmas Day 1979 to see Superman. was a great theater and was glad to see it reopen

BeltwayBrian
BeltwayBrian on March 11, 2014 at 9:25 am

Nothing but love for this theater. It was my first (three consecutive nights) visit to an Alamo Drafthouse and I was not disappointed (Flash Gordon!). Love to know that this old gal has some very cool history. Viva Cinerama!

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