Royal Theatre

612 - 614 Commercial Street,
Atchison, KS 66002

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Royal Theatre

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One of Atchison’s early theatres. It opened in the early-1900’s. The first mention I found of this theatre was in 1911, though it probably opened earlier.

Originally the Royal Theatre was a single screen with 692 seats. It was later twinned. At one point in its life, the theatre operated as a Saturday night country music opry but with only mild success. The music was said to be great but the audience was often too small to pay for the show’s cast. The owners kept the show going at their own expense. Currently the theatre shows first and second run features.

The exterior is somewhat simple but elegant in brick and white stucco with subtle ornamentation and a few finials and arc’s at the top of the facade. The building seems representative of Spanish or Moorish architecture. There is a very simple awning style marquee a large decorative “R” tile on the stucco above the marquee.

Contributed by Clay Jarratt

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

claydoh77
claydoh77 on November 23, 2004 at 10:58 am

Universal Pictures bought the Royal around 1925. From further research this was also known as the Fox Theatre or The Fox Royal Theatre. The original building was razed in 1947. A year and a half later the new Fox Royal opened on January 27, 1949. The newspaper headline read “Atchison is calling attention to the opening of it’s new theater, the Fox. The old town is getting foxy in many ways.” The opening included the world premier of the movie “The Sun Looks Up,” live stars appeared on stage. This was and still is, the only movie that ever premiered in Atchison.

Fox Midwest owned the Fox, as well as the Orpheum. The new Fox Theatre was absolutely the last word in theatre design. Steel, concrete and brick with terra cotta made the building virtually fireproof.

Identical to the RCA sound system used in Radio City Music Hall in New York City, the RCA sound system produced a natural tone to human voices, and amplified all musical tones without distortion.

One of the most beautiful interior appointments was the gigantic cloverleaf above the seats at the rear which hid the lights. In the beautiful foyer were terraced floors that featured a modern concession stand dispensing Coke, ice cream bars, popcorn or candy.

Cashiers, doormen and usherettes were outfitted in new blue military style uniforms.

On opening night, before each feature, was a stage show featuring Brenda Joyce, Hollywood star, ‘Ginger Denning of radio’s famed Denning Sisters and Leighton Nobel and his nationally popular 15-piece band. Atchison’s own Jack Moorhead was master of ceremonies. A Junior at KU, he worked to promote the Red Cross and War Bonds.

Tickets for the opening cost $1.50. Prices reverted to 60 cents for adults and 14 cents for kids the 2nd day.

Edward Jurich
Edward Jurich on July 23, 2008 at 10:10 am

The Royal is in sad shape and further ruined by the city making a mall out of downtown. A two block stretch, including the Royal, has a cement canopy over the sidewalk and required removal of the Royal’s marquee. The street has been replaced with trees and grass. I know of other cities that have tried this and it does not do a thing to attract people. It is summer right now in Atchison and there is virtually nobody on the 2 block stretch of mall. The stores on both sides of the street have rear entrances that are used more than the mall entrances. The Royal busted through the rear wall and is using an entrance there. [url=http://www.itemspecialty.com/movie/royal_theater.jpg]

Edward Jurich
Edward Jurich on February 26, 2009 at 7:57 pm

The entrance is now at the back of the theater because the city screwed up the downtown streets and everyone uses what was the alley to access stores. So now when you walk into the twined main floor, you walk in under the (small) screen so the screen is way up in the air. The few times I have gone to torture a viewing I sit in the last row and I still have to look up. I can not image sitting up close, you would get a stiff neck. Sound is not very good and the wall between the two screens is thin so you hear what is going on in the other screen. Might look nice in a picture but it is not a good movie experience. The old balcony has a huge wall to wall screen the width of the original building. But since there are stairs, it is not handicapped accessible and no longer used.

Carlj
Carlj on August 22, 2012 at 1:14 pm

I saw the first Harry Potter film here….a very cute theater

rivest266
rivest266 on December 22, 2012 at 11:43 am

No showtimes or listings for this theatre, closed?

rivest266
rivest266 on December 29, 2012 at 11:50 am

This theatre does very little marketing. It could sell more tickets if it posts showtimes online.

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