time was 6:30 p.m., June 25, 1927. St. Joseph, Missouri
citizens-factory workers, packing plant employees,
professionals-arrived in Model T Fords, Stanley Steamers, Pierce
Arrows or hurried on foot up the sidewalk to the seventh block of
Edmond Street for the gala opening of the city's $1 million,
1,200-seat "Movie Palace." The air was electric with
The Missouri Theater opened June
25, 1927 with Rough House Rosie as the feature. Waylande
Gregory designed and created all the sculptural work in the
theater in 1926 and 1927.
CLICK HERE to learn more about Waylande Gregory.
After paying their 25 cents
admission, guests were astounded at the theater's intricate
beauty. The silent film showing that evening must have paled in
comparison to the theater's plush seats, ornate chandelier and
exquisite plaster work. Though silent films are long past for the
theater, this sense of awe returns each time a local theater
group, national performer or arts program takes its stage.
Designed by Boller Brothers,
the Missouri Theater's unique structure was added to the national
Register of Historic Places in 1979. While movie palaces across
the country were being torn down to make room for contemporary
structures, the citizens of St. Joseph refused to allow
destruction of one of the country's few examples of
to open a PDF file that contains some old
newspaper clippings regarding the Missouri Theater and its
grand opening in 1927.
A $1.9 million renovation
project, designed by St. Joseph-based Ellison-Auxier Architects,
Inc., began in September, 2001 and was completed in March, 2002.
Fresh carpet, repaired plaster, cleaned seat upholstery and
remodeled dressing rooms were among the scheduled projects.
Restroom facilities were added and handicapped accessibility was
improved. Upgraded lighting and sound systems also contribute to
Funding for the restorations
came from the 1998 Capital Improvement Sales Tax, a five-year,
half-cent tax program.
In 2013 the theater is slated for more
renovations including new lighting and rigging systems. Funding
for the continued restoration comes from the 2005 Capital
Improvement Sales Tax.
Early morning, on February
19, 2011 a fire broke out in the Missouri Theater complex, in the
northeast corner of the second floor, used by Robidoux Resident
Theater as their costume shop. Three fire doors failed to shut,
allowing extensive amounts of smoke to damage the theater. Two
local businesses became uninhabitable, and several arts agency
offices were forced to temporarily relocate. Luckily no shows had
to be rescheduled, and the Missouri Theater opened mid-May of
Renovations Completed in 2002
eight lobby doors were replaced with new insulated
doors (old ones were wood) and painted.
2 new cast grilles were installed inside the lobby
to match 2 existing grilles
Extensive plaster patching throughout the theater to
repair crack and crumbling interior walls.
The drinking fountain was restored to its original
appearance and updated with a chiller added.
Wood doors were removed from theater entrance
(inside by lobby) and replaced with drapes.
The back curtains
over the glass were replaced as well as new brass rods
A new permanent mixer board is being installed at
the back of the theater in the sound monitoring
All new carpet both upstairs and downstairs along
with the Mezzanine.
The entire interior of the theater has been
repainted to match its original colors.
The green room (ready room under the stage) was
repainted and carpeted.
A vinyl covering was installed in the stairways by
the dressing rooms.
2 new marquee signs at the entrance of the theater.
Seats were all steam cleaned.
Womens and Mens restrooms on Mezzanine redesigned,
enlarged, painted, papered, new flooring and all new
All lighting repaired or replaced.
The sound system will be totally replaced.
A sound shell was purchased for the stage.
A new masonite surface was put on the stage floor.
New roof vents and heating system repairs.
2 new boilers to replace the old boiler.
A sprinkler system was installed.
A new coat-check room was created on the Mezzanine.
2 New chandeliers as you enter the lobby were
presented to the theater by Friends of the Theater,
and are supposed to match the original lights that