The theater has long brought communities together. From grassroots efforts to save historic spaces to opening nights of renowned performances, theaters serve as a bridge between bygone eras and today. Show your support and appreciation for the arts by visiting one of these 10 best historic theaters in Kansas.
The C.L. Hoover Opera House is celebrating its 120th anniversary in 2018. A member of the Kansas Historic Theater Association and league of Historic American Theaters, they have continued to thrive as a cultural center point in Junction City since the original founding. Today, they still have regularly scheduled shows, ranging from jazz to “The Wizard of Oz” to ballet.
The Burford Theatre has brought a Spanish Renaissance flair to Arkansas City since opening in 1924. Originally a movie theatre as well as a well-known vaudeville spot, the theatre underwent a change of ownership in 2004. It reopened its doors in 2016, fully renovated and ready to present new events to the public.
The Orpheum Theatre in Wichita, Kansas, combines modern amenities with a historic feel. The Orpheum presents concerts, films, and performing arts events throughout the year. Built in 1922, the Orpheum was the first theatre to bring the “atmospheric style” of non-formal movie-going to the United States.
The McPherson Opera House boasts an intimate, 500-seat auditorium, making for the perfect space to get swept up in the beauty of the opera. The McPherson Opera House Company “was originally founded in 1986 as the McPherson Opera House Preservation Company to save the Opera House from demolition.” Since then, they’ve created a wonderful place to enjoy the arts in McPherson.
The Augusta Historic Theatre calls itself “an old-time movie house with modern amenities.” It originally opened in 1935 to a sold-out showing of the film “Black Sheep.” Today, this two-story art deco theatre has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places and continues to show the newest films.
Residents of Emporia, Kansas, already know that the Emporia Granada Theatre is the go-to spot for regularly scheduled music of all genres. This sit-down theatre hosts acts as varied as “American Idol” winners to rap tribute bands. With its hand-painted ceiling and old-school feel, every show is an incredible event at the Emporia.
The Brown Grand Theatre in Concordia, Kansas, is “a community-based historic theatre dedicated to enhancing cultural life in North Central Kansas,” according to their mission statement. Originally built in 1905, this 113-year-old theatre offers community tours and is available to rent for events.
The Historic Hutchison Fox Theatre roared back to life in 1999 after a local preservation group spent millions to restore it to its original appearance, including moldings, lights, and marquee. Frequenters can choose to become season ticket holders or come for one event at a time. Programming includes music and performing arts.
The Stiefel Theater for Performing Arts is known for “live music you’ll never forget.” They attract musical groups from around the world, including the Irish band Celtic Thunder. Check their website for an updated event list and choose from music of all genres or a one-man comedy show.
Originally built in 1920 as a silent movie and vaudeville house, the theatre was purchased in 2011 and repurposed for modern movies. While the theatre isn’t as fancy as some newer megaplex, its art deco charm is certainly appealing in its own right. Next time you want to see a movie, consider enjoying it in the ambiance of history.