Uptown Theatre

1010 East Broadway,
Columbia, MO 65201

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Uptown Theatre, Columbia, Missouri about 1950

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Uptown Theatre Opened in 1935 as part of the Commonwealth Amusement chain. It formally opened on May 18, 1935 for invited guests only. The theater was refurbished twice under the direction of Commonwealth Amusement.

The Uptown Theatre closed on the same day as the opening of Commonwealth’s Columbia Mall 4 Theatres in 1986.

Contributed by ChuckVanBibber

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

paudnl
paudnl on March 24, 2005 at 5:50 pm

I worked at the Uptown Theatre from 1969-1971. It had 505 seats at that time. During the early 1960s, the Uptown was the site for many of the blockbuster, or “roadshow” films, mainly because of its screen’s ratio, which was perfect for the new Panavision process. Films such as “Spartacus,” “The Longest Day,” “How The West Was Won,” “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” “Cleopatra,” “The Alamo” and “Exodus” all had their Columbia debut there. It was unique theatre in Columbia due to the fact that it was the only downtown theatre without a balcony and was designed solely for movies, whereas the other downtown theatres, the Hall, Missouri and Varsity/Film Arts, respectively, started as vaudeville houses. The Uptown’s auditorium was long and narrow and every seat had a good view of the screen. The theatre had two lobbies, the main lobby upstairs and a smaller one in a downstairs area where the restrooms were. In 1970 the lower lobby and restrooms were completely renovated. As the workman tore away the north wall of the lobby, they discovered the foundation remnants of an old blacksmith’s forge, which had once occupied the theatre’s location.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on November 19, 2007 at 9:59 pm

There is a video game store at this address now:
http://tinyurl.com/tkhrj

Silicon Sam
Silicon Sam on May 28, 2009 at 1:18 pm

Looking at Street View, the entire facade is gone. Just a simple concrete face now, with some windows in the upper floor. Wonder if those were just covered up when the porcelain facade was installed?

Barrett
Barrett on January 17, 2012 at 2:51 pm

My father, Rex P. Barrett, built and operated the Uptown Theatre. He negotiated with the owners of Commonweath Amusement about joining the chain. Rex had completed the PhD in Economics at the University of Missouri in 1934 but decided he could make more money in the theatre business. Rex was no stranger to the movie business as his father operated movie theatres as early as 1915. While attending school, Rex worked as the assistant manager of the Missouri Theatre for the owners.

Rex’s deal with Commonwealth gave him a one-fourth ownership and he also retained the profits from the concession stand, which my grandparents operated as a separate entity from the theatre. In return Commonwealth helped with the remodel job and Rex no longer had to travel to Kansas City and bid for movies since Commonwealth did it for him and took three quarters of the net profit from ticket sales.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 18, 2012 at 5:30 am

Here is a black-and-white night view, ca. 1935, of the Uptown’s marquee and vertical sign, from the Jane Froman papers.

A long article about Columbia’s movie theaters published in Columbia Business Times (currently online here) has a few lines about the Uptown. It says that the house opened in 1907 as the Bijo Dream, and operated for twenty years under that and three subsequent names: Broadway Odeon, Cozy and Uptown. From 1927 until 1935, the building was used for retail business, and then was reopened as the Uptown Theatre.

I’m not sure if “Bijo” is a mistake or not, as the text uses the name in two different locations, but it’s possible that it should read Bijou Dream, which was a popular name for theaters during the nickelodeon era.

Barrett
Barrett on February 4, 2012 at 5:04 pm

I’ve added a color photo to CinemaTreasures of the Uptown taken about 1944 showing a huge crowd. I can’t tell what the movie was at the time and I’m only guessing at the date by looking at the cars. I also added a bw photo of the Boone Theatre from just after WWII.

To clarify my earlier posting: My father, Rex P. Barrett ran the Cozy theatre shortly after arriving in Columbia in 1921 after purchasing the old Odeon. Dad had been in the movie theatre business with his father Frank Barrett in Granby, Missouri during high school and after WWI. The movie theatre in Granby was named the Cozy.

After obtaining his AB degree in 1928, Dad sold the Cozy in Columbia to his competition and bought a movie house in Bloomington, Indiana. But he soon returned to Columbia and was retained to supervise the construction, equipping and furnishing of the new Missouri Theatre and to manage the operation. In 1935 after finishing his PhD in Economics he resigned from the Missouri Theatre and remodeled the Cozy into the Uptown and joined the new theatre chain Commonwealth Amusement Co.

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