Esquire Theatre

211 East 12th Street,
Kansas City, MO 64106

Unfavorite 1 person favorited this theater

Esquire Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

One of the long gone downtown houses of Kansas City. Opened as the Twelfth Street Theatre in around 1922, became the Wonderland Theatre in 1932. Then Downtown Theatre and later renamed the Esquire Theatre. It closed in the 1960’s.

Contributed by Chuck Van Bibber

Recent comments (view all 28 comments)

KCB3Player
KCB3Player on August 22, 2014 at 3:22 pm

I just remembered that the Todd-A-O screen at the Tower was set up for the very long run of Oklahoma which ran for more than a year. The next movie was Around the World in 80 Days but was later transferred up the the RKO Missouri (Mainstreet, Cinerama and later Empire.I think either Around the World in 80 Day or Suddenly Last Summer was the last film to play the RKO Missouri before it was changed to 3 projection Cinerama. At that time the first ¼ of the balcony was removed in addition to the side lodges in front of the organ pipe grills. That was all covered by drapes.

WTKFLHN
WTKFLHN on August 24, 2014 at 4:20 pm

South Pacific did indeed play at the Tower in ToddAO. The mgr at the time was Roy Hill, I think it probably ray for about a year or so. I know I saw “South Pacific” at the Tower when I was still working at the Plaza. It took me quite a while to get a pass to see it, even on a matinees. KCBE, the Disney movies you saw at the Esquire, may have been because the Esquire was in the FOX Midwest 1st run unit, with Uptown, Fairway and later, the Granada. If for some reason the Tower wasn’t running in the unit, the Esquire would be open and in the 1st run Fox unit. Disney movies always played 1st run at Fox. And they were Golden. Always a sell out on weekend matinees, especially. I can remember working at the Fairway, having the theatre sold out, and a double line from the box office, all the way to the back of the theatre in the parking lot and back out to the street. Those were the days.

Don H.

WTKFLHN
WTKFLHN on August 24, 2014 at 4:42 pm

Mike. You were talking about the sound system at the Plaza. I recall working there in 1956, when the film “Forbidden Planet” was playing. Back then, new shows started on Wednesdays and closed the following Tuesday.Well “Forbidden Planet” had one of the most stunning 4 track stereo soundtracks I’ve ever heard. On the Wednesday night show, it would knock your socks off. On Thursday, not so much. A lowly usher wouldn’t dream of going up to the projection booth to complain. So, I told my boss, the assistant mgr. He listens and says. “sounds OK to me”. So, I jumped about on Friday and he said the same think. On Saturday, he finally gave in and went up to the projection booth. The projectionist went to a relay rack, open the door and looked inside. He says, “Don’s right. there are 2 amps out. Will call RCA service co and get them out here Monday”. Monday night and Tuesday the movie sounded AWESOME again.

Don H.

KCB3Player
KCB3Player on August 25, 2014 at 3:56 am

Maybe South Pacific was moved over to the Capri when the Tower finally closed its doors because my family did go to the Capri. There was one more long engagement movie at the Capri before BenHur. BenHur was the longest running movie ever in any KC Theater. I will never forget seeing it there and could not believe how wide the screen was and that beautiful sound. Sadly, my Dad took me to the Auction when the contents were being sold in preparation for the demolition of the Tower and Esquire Theater. All the beautiful Italian Marble on the walls of the long entry way just destroyed with no attempt to salvage it. The screen had already been removed and half of the seats were gone. We walked up to the projection booth and also just looked at the beauty of the theater especially the ceiling and the stage that was going to be gone in a short time. It was a sad time for KC especially because the Orpheum was meeting the same fate just a few months later.

WTKFLHN
WTKFLHN on August 25, 2014 at 2:23 pm

Mike. Did you ever work at the Plaza? The was a man with your last name there. He was an assistant mgr. But he left before I got there. I have heard his name mentioned. But I don’t know his first name.

Don H.

WTKFLHN
WTKFLHN on August 25, 2014 at 2:32 pm

Mike. Where was the Capri Theatre you mention? I think I’ve heard of it, but I don’t find in KC listings here.

Don H.

KCB3Player
KCB3Player on August 25, 2014 at 2:42 pm

the Capri was a Durwood Theater near 11th and Broadway and then became the Lyric for many years of performances by the Lyric Opera and the Kansas City Ballet. I really thought that UMKC would take it over. It is a very good theater originally built as a Shriner’s Temple. KMBC TV had their studio in the basement. I hope it can be saved. I did not work at the Plaza but that was a 2nd Cousin of mine that did. If it would have still been owned by the J.C.Nichols Co. it would have never been destroyed -it would have been a great live performance Theater and could could have been easily renovated. I used to go to all the WHB Saturday morning Shows and always sat in the balcony. I saw Goldfinger there. Loved that theater too. Feel free to call me sometime and let’s talk old KC Theaters. 8168133664

WTKFLHN
WTKFLHN on August 26, 2014 at 1:30 pm

Mike. I’ll do that, I promise. When is the best time to call?

WTKFLHN
WTKFLHN on August 26, 2014 at 1:31 pm

By the way. I live in New Orleans, now. So be looking for a 504 area code.

Don H.

KCB3Player
KCB3Player on August 26, 2014 at 2:43 pm

Afternoons or in the evenings after 8:00 pm. Enjoy the restoration of the Orpheum, Loew’s State (Palace) the Joy and the Saenger Theaterss (and a few others). I think the Joy is now a night club but at least it was saved. The Orpheum is similar to our Orpheum that was demolished in 1961.

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment

Subscribe Want to be emailed when a new comment is posted about this theater?
Just login to your account and subscribe to this theater