Benton Theatre

3200 E. Independence Avenue,
Kansas City, MO 64124

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Benton Theater, 1940

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Benton Theatre opened in 1911 seating 492. Another of the many Kansas City theatres, it was remodelley by the Boller Brothers in 1933.

Located on the corner of Independence Avenue and Benton Boulevard the theatre had a coner entrance with a free standing box office and the entrance doors directly behind. This was a small neighborhood house with a small lobby but nicely decorated with a three aisle auditorium. The auditorium had a lot of decorative plastic work and plush red velvet draped covered the screen.

The last couple years the Benton was on a week end only operation and closed in 1952. The Benton was under the Fox banner. Used as a church in recent years, the building partially collapsed on August 8, 2014.

Contributed by Chuck Van Bibber

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

JimRankin
JimRankin on April 29, 2004 at 3:33 am

Tour of Missouri, Oklahoma and Kansas Theatres in 2004
From June 26 through July 1, 2004 the Theatre Historical Society of America will tour a number of theatres in Kansas City Missouri and surrounding areas, including theatres in Lamar, Joplin, Richmond, St. Joseph and Springfield, MO, as well as Miami, OK, and these cities in Kansas: Leavenworth, Kansas City, Emporia, El Dorado, Augusta, Wichita, Hutchinson, McPherson, Salina, Concordia, and Topeka. More information is contained on their web site: http://www.HistoricTheatres.org and special photos and information concerning the Kansas City theatres: UPTOWN and the MIDLAND is available on this temporary page of their site at: http://www2.hawaii.edu/~angell/thsa/fromarch.html A glossy brochure about this “Heart of America” Conclave is available from the Society’s headquarters listed on their homepage, via E-mail to the Ex. Director, or via snail mail. Membership in the Society is not required to attend the Conclave and tour the theatres, but fees do apply as detailed on their site. Bring your camera and lots of film, for it is usually difficult or impossible to enter these theatres for photos, and some of them will surely not be with us in the years to come.

RobbKCity
RobbKCity on June 12, 2007 at 11:50 am

Here are May 2007 photos of the former Benton Theater, now used as a church facility.

The source of the photos are Eric Bowers of http://www.valdorephoto.com . Please do not duplicate or sell. Photos can be purchased at Web site.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 23, 2011 at 1:32 am

The Benton Theatre, at Independence and Benton Boulevards, was in operation at least as early as 1923. The Pathe Exchange in Kansas City received a letter from the theater’s operator, J. W. Watson, dated January 21, 1923, praising the Pathe serial “The Way of a Man.” The letter was published in the exchange’s advertisement in the February 2, 1924, issue of The Reel Journal.

a511475
a511475 on August 7, 2014 at 6:23 pm

Can any one tell me when approximately this building started to be associated with being a church? I thought it was 1955 but others think it was in the 1980’s thanks

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 7, 2014 at 7:52 pm

I don’t know when the Benton Theatre became a church, but it will be a church no longer after today. According to this post at northeastnews.net, the building partly collapsed this morning, and what is left will probably be demolished soon. A vacation bible school was in session at the time of the collapse, but all 44 children and 20 staff members escaped the disaster.

A city official said that the structure was not on the city’s dangerous buildings list, as Kansas City lacks the staff for random building inspections, and only investigates the condition of structures if and when complaints are filed.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 7, 2014 at 8:35 pm

Some of the news media reporting on the collapse of the Benton Theatre building earlier today might be checking Cinema Treasures for information, as a couple are using the 1931 opening date we give. It’s wrong, though. An advertisement by the Kansas City Real Estate Board in the August 22, 1926, issue of the Kansas City Star touted real property in the city as an investment, and said:

“[t]he Benton Theater building at Benton and Independence Boulevards was built in 1911 by C. O. Jones. Since then it has paid for itself twice over in rental revenue and was sold this year for three times the original cost.”
David and Noelle’s list of known Boller Brothers theater designs does list the Benton Theatre as a 1931 project for the firm, but that had to have been a remodeling job. The house was mentioned several times in the trade publications during the 1910s and 1920s. I haven’t been able to discover the original architect of the Benton Theatre. Noelle Soren’s research was sufficiently thorough that, had the 1911 Benton been designed by Carl Boller, it’s very likely that she would have discovered the fact.

a511475
a511475 on August 8, 2014 at 1:27 pm

The news this morning said the building was 113 years old. Sure would like to know when a church took over the building. Thanks

KCB3Player
KCB3Player on August 14, 2014 at 1:44 pm

I hope someone can post some pictures of the demolition of the theater. After it closed in the 50’s, it because a 1 Hour Dry Cleaning Facility used in the front of the building and it even retained the Marquee for another 15 years at least. I think it was in 1968 that the marquee was removed and a new sign put up for the dry cleaning business. By this time the auditorium was used for dry cleaning for businesses all over the Metro. I think it went out of business in 1972 and by 1978 it was transformed into a Church. It exclusively became a Spanish Speaking Church about 13 years ago. It really looked nice inside. I wish they could save the front of the building and rebuild the auditorium. Not sure if anyone even wants to do that. It was the last theater building left standing on Independence Ave. I wish someone would post some pics of the National and the Vista when they were operating.

Mattr833
Mattr833 on September 17, 2014 at 2:54 pm

Street demolition crews in the Waldo area uncovered a building cornerstone with the following information:
“Auditorium
1911
L.A. Buck, Pres.
I.W. Avitt, V. Pres
C.H. Tucker, Sec.
John Reiderer, Tres.
G.A. Heiler, Builder”

From the quick research I did, the theaters constructed in 1911 include The Benton Theater, The Apollo and the Alamo. Does anyone know if this information points to a specific theater or auditorium in the Kansas City area? I realize this could have come from any building throughout the country or a school auditorium, but thought I would throw it out there to see if anything turns up. Thanks in advance.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 17, 2014 at 5:38 pm

Mattr833: There was once an Auditorium Theatre in Kansas City, but it was built long before 1911. It was originally called the Warder Grand Opera House and was at the northeast corner of 9th and Holmes. As far as I know there were no other theaters called the Auditorium in Kansas City.

The cornerstone was probably used as fill when the road it was under was built or improved. Rock fill might have been trucked to the site from anywhere around the region, including any of the small cities and towns on either the Missouri or the Kansas side of the border. The cornerstone might have come from a municipal auditorium in one of them.

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