Royal Theatre

1022 Main Street,
Kansas City, MO 64105

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Royal Theatre, Kansas City in 1929

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Theatre Royal at 1022 Main opened here on June 10, 1914. It was forerunner of modern downtown motion picture palaces.

Frank L. Newman was born in Newark, NJ, to Jewish parents who died when he was quite young. A kindly Irish family reared him, and he helped them in their restaurant until he struck out for himself, earning $1.75 for an all night job in an iron foundry.

Married at 17, Newman saw his first movie in Montreal. He and his wife moved to St. Louis, where he borrowed $100 and with $25.00 he had saved, started a movie house with a partner. It was called the Royal. In 1909 he went to Joplin and opened another Royal and a few years later one in St. Joseph, also called the Royal.

An outcry arose when the Theatre Royal was being built in Kansas City in 1913. It was considered an undesireable intrusion in a strictly retail district. Merchants felt the two hours patrons spent inside the theater would mean less time for them to gaze into store windows and shop.

After the theater was in operation they felt differently, and in 1915 Robinson’s even opened a shoe store next door north (still there today).

The legend on the back of a post card of the theater reads: “Most beautiful house west of the Mississippi. Open 8:00 am to 11:00 pm. Ten piece orchestra. Mammoth Pipe Organ. Lounging room for gentlemen and Rest Room for Ladies with Maid attendant. Check room for Babies. Children’s Play Room. Strictly Fireproof.”

Newman later opened two more movie theaters in Kansas City, the Regent and the Newman. The Royal Theatre, as it was called in later years, was replaced in 1936 by retail stores.

Contributed by Chuck Van Bibber

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

claydoh77
claydoh77 on January 17, 2005 at 4:04 am

Here is a link to a photo of the Royal Theatre from 1928:
View link

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on September 30, 2005 at 9:31 pm

A Moller organ Opus 1716 Size 2/17 was installed in the Royal Theater in 1914 at a cost of $4,200. On 2/17/1922 a Wurlitzer organ Opus 518 Style D replaced the Moller organ.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on December 31, 2006 at 2:39 am

The Royal owners installed a marquee in 1932, which displeased the shoe store adjacent:
http://tinyurl.com/yhlxdg

jumpinjiminy
jumpinjiminy on September 19, 2007 at 3:18 pm

The area where the Royal was located is now a multilevel parking lot. Most of the demolished theater locations in downtown Kansas City are now parking lots.

kcfan
kcfan on February 20, 2009 at 11:12 pm

H. Alexander Drake was the Architect for the the Royal Theater, according to the architectural records I viewed at Western Historical Manuscripts Collection, University of Missouri-Kansas City. They have some blue prints showing the front elevation, auditorium, balcony and orchestra pit. No photos though. Thanks to Lost Memory for finding the gems in above post.

kcfan
kcfan on June 17, 2009 at 12:25 am

Here are a couple of photos of the Royal Theater, including an interior shot from the Dr. Kenneth J. LaBudde Special Collections Department, University of Missouri-Kansas City.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kcfan/3633944508/

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on August 13, 2012 at 5:41 pm

Described in this 1914 trade article: archive

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on August 20, 2012 at 5:39 pm

Pictured in this 1925 trade journal at bottom of the page: Boxoffice

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