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Mainstreet Theatre

Photo from the Kansas City Public Library collection.
B&B Theatres
1400 Main St
Kansas City MO

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Record #10550  
 Opened: October 30, 1921
Architect(s): Rapp & Rapp
Architectural Style(s):
National Register:
Current Organ: none
 Also Known As: RKO Missouri, Empire, Cinerama, Main Street
 Previously operated by: Radio-Keith-Orpheum, RKO Theatres, Stanley Warner Cinerama Corporation, Durwood Theatres, AMC Theatres, Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas

Information for this tour was contributed by Kansas City Public Library.

"The Mainstreet Theater at the southwest corner of 14th and Main opened October 30, 1921.

"The popular vaudeville and movie house, with a seating capacity of 3,000, was the first theater in Kansas City to have a nursery for children whose parents were attending the show. Located in the basement and under the supervision of a trained nurse, the nursery had toys and games for older children and cribs for babies. It was quite an experiment in that pre-feminist day, when babies and their mothers were almost inseparable.

"A tunnel from the lower level of the theater led to the President Hotel at 14th and Baltimore. This was mainly for actors who dressed in rooms adjoining the tunnel and then walked to the theater. The tunnel became infamous because bootleggers used the runway to escape police during Prohibition years.

"In Mary Magley's book on the great theater heritage of Missouri, she tells of the Mainstreet having a basement and sub-basement where animals were kept for shows: "It even had an elephant cage, a pool for seals and an elevator large enough and powerful enough to haul elephants to the stage. Noted performers such as Cab Calloway, Charlie Chaplin, Sir Henry Lauder and Olson & Johnson all head-lined at the vaudeville house."

"Records put show attendance three months after the theater opened at an average of 4,000 daily, including daytime and evening performances.

"Max Bernstein of Kansas City published the postcard in color. It was mailed June 29, 1923, when the popularity of the theater was at its height."

Kansas City Times
April 24, 1987

Closed in 1985, the 3000-seat theater has been gutted and converted into a 6-screen cinema for AMC Entertainment which opened on May 1, 2009.

After a reported dispute between AMC and the developers of Kansas City's Power & Light Entertainment District, AMC ended their operation of this theatre on June 20, 2012. Alamo Drafthouse theatres quickly stepped in with plans to transform the theatre into an Alamo Drafthouse cinema.

In March 2021, Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas filed for bankruptcy and permanently closed this and two other locations.

B&B Theatres reopened the theater on September 30, 2021.

 Photos remain the property of the Member and may not be reproduced without the written consent of the Member.

2006 photos from The Cordish Company collection.

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July 2002 photos from the Adam Martin collection.

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1966 photos from the William Hamilton collection.

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 Images remain the property of the Member and may not be reproduced without the written consent of the Member.

Postcards from the Kansas City Public Library collection.

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Last featured 3/8/2005. Last edited 7/24/2022.

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