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Blue Note Theatre

2016 Photo from the Adam Martin collection
17 N Ninth St
Columbia MO 65201
(573) 874-1944

Visit Website Live Theatre
Record #9347  
 Opened: 1927
Architectural Style(s):
National Register:
Current Organ: none
 Also Known As: Varsity, Film Arts
 Previously operated by: Commonwealth Theatres

Information for this tour was contributed by Darren Snow.

Currently a night club which brings many great musical acts to town, the Blue Note's movie-exhibiting lifespan lasted from 1927 until circa May of 1972.

The Varsity, which had been a Commonwealth theatre since 1955 (when they leased it from the Tom Hall estate), was vacant from 1960 to 1966 -- aside from the occasional rummage sale. When it reopened (it was back by 2/67, if not sooner), it was known as the (New) Film Arts. The Film Arts closed "for the summer" after the last showing of D.H. Lawrence's "Women In Love" on 5/2/72.

The Tribune of 7/1/88 reported that Gary Grimes planned to reopen the Varsity as a concert hall featuring his reconstituted 1960s group, the Comic Book Society, as house band. The theatre was purchased by developer Garry Lewis in 1987, and under a lease-purchase agreement with Grimes, the latter would become sole owner after a year. About half of the seats would be torn out, with a dance floor up front and rows of tables alternating with rows of seats in the back. The article contended that the theatre had been closed since the late 1960s, but another source indicates that the 1970s saw an antique store and then a cheese shop at this address.

I have yet to find out how far the Grimes deal got, but we do know that the venue has housed the Blue Note rock club since about 1991. They've done a good job of maintaining and painting the remaining ornate detailing. (No matter what the directories imply, this theater was never a cinema under the Blue Note name; just a concert hall.)

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

March 2016 photos from the Adam Martin collection.

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Last featured 2002-12-27. Last edited 4/8/2016.

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