1022 Main Street,
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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.
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