Mainstreet KC at the Power & Light District

1400 Main Street,
Kansas City, MO 64105

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B & B Theatres (Official)

Additional Info

Operated by: B & B Theatres

Previously operated by: Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas, AMC Theatres, Durwood Theatres Inc., Orpheum Circuit, RKO

Architects: Cornelius Ward Rapp, George W. Leslie Rapp

Firms: Rapp & Rapp

Functions: Movies (First Run)

Styles: French Renaissance, Neo-Classical

Previous Names: Mainstreet Theatre, RKO Missouri Theatre, Empire Theatre, Empire Cinerama, AMC Mainstreet Theatre, Alamo Drafthouse Mainstreet

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News About This Theater

Mainstreet Theatre

The 3,000-plus seat Mainstreet Theatre opened in October 30, 1921 with Conway Tearle in “After Midnight” on the screen and on the stage Eddie Foy & the Younger Foy’s in “The Foy Fun Revue” plus vaudeville acts. It was the only theatre in Kansas City designed by the Chicago firm of Rapp & Rapp. Its interior design was French Baroque style and the exterior a blend of Neo-Classical and French Empire styles. The lobby area is topped by a dome encircled by circular windows. In 1924 it was equipped with a Kimball 3 manual 10 ranks theatre organ.

It was the first theatre in Kansas City to contain a nursery for parents attending shows. The Mainstreet Theatre also featured an underground tunnel which connected it to the nearby President Hotel. Also, its basement and sub-basement contained space for animals used in the elaborate vaudeville shows put on at the theatre, including cages for animals as large as elephants (and elevators big enough to carry them up to the stage) and pools for seals.

From the time the Mainstreet Theatre opened until 1938, it was part of the so-called “Junior Orpheum” circuit, and among the famous names to play its stage were Charlie Chaplin and Cab Calloway, Harry Lauder, The Marx Brothers & Olsen and Johnson.

The Mainstreet Theatre closed for the first time in 1938, briefly reopened in 1941, and remained closed until 1949, when it was reopened by the RKO circuit, as a movie palace, called the RKO Missouri Theatre. It became a Cinerama house operating 3-strip and then single lens 70mm. On December 1, 1960 it was renamed the Empire Theatre. The Kimball organ remained in use until 1961 when there was a dispute with the Musicians Union and it was later removed. The Empire Theatre was twinned in 1967 and became a 4-screen theatre in 1980, but it closed once again in 1985.

Though plans to turn it into a Planet Hollywood-style entertainment venue and eatery were floated, it never came to fruition. Its owner was then seeking to demolish the historic (though not landmarked) structure, but local preservationists sought to save the former Empire Theatre. The Empire Theatre was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in February 2006.

In September 2008, work began to convert the theatre into a six-screen movie theatre. It reopened in April 2009, and reverted back to its original name Mainstreet Theatre. The two largest theatres have 300 seats each, and the smaller theatres will have 50 to 100 seats. On November 15, 2012, it became the Alamo Drafthouse Mainstreet. It was closed on march 16, 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas declared bankruptcy on March 3, 2021 and the Alamo Drafthouse Mainstreet would be closed permanently.

In April 2021 it was announced that B&B Theatres chain will reopen the movie theatre in the fall of 2021. Reopened by B&B Theatres on 10/1/2021.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 119 comments)

imaxman
imaxman on August 25, 2015 at 6:48 pm

In the fall of 1968 I saw “2001 Space Odyssey” I suppose in the lower Empire 2. Possibly in that same time period I say “Around The World in 80 Days” in the upstairs theater, a reissue? Last film I saw in the upper small theater was “Flap” Anthony Quinn Release Date: November 1970 (USA). That was the last film I saw there as I returned to California.

rivest266
rivest266 on April 23, 2018 at 2:16 pm

Grand opening ad from October 30th, 1921 can be found in the photo section.

rivest266
rivest266 on May 5, 2018 at 3:42 pm

Reopened as RKO Missouri on July 26th, 1949. Ad in photo section and at https://www.genealogybank.com/nbshare/AC01110225224715029151525560093.

rivest266
rivest266 on May 5, 2018 at 3:44 pm

Full page ad at https://www.genealogybank.com/nbshare/AC01110225224715029151525560283

rivest266
rivest266 on May 6, 2018 at 12:56 pm

Full page ad as Empire on December 21st, 1960 https://www.genealogybank.com/nbshare/AC01110225224715029151525636527

rivest266
rivest266 on May 7, 2018 at 2:11 pm

Upstairs Empire theatre renamed Royal on June 26th, 1968

moviebuff82
moviebuff82 on July 7, 2018 at 6:32 pm

This theater was shown during coverage of a royals game today and was featured in AMCs coming soon snipes in the late 2000s.

JackCoursey
JackCoursey on July 29, 2018 at 9:35 pm

How much, if any, of the original auditorium is still in place?

DAL
DAL on August 1, 2018 at 6:53 pm

JackCoursey, none of the original auditorium is visible to the general public. But when I was with AMC, the manager took us up to the old balcony section behind the new upper level theatres. That area still has the stadium tiers for the old upstairs theatre.

dallasmovietheaters
dallasmovietheaters on March 3, 2021 at 9:43 am

The Alamo Drafthouse Mainstreet closed along with the circuit’s other locations on March 16, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Alamo Drafthouse then declared bankruptcy and announced permanent closure of three locations on March 3, 2021. Seven months shy of its 100th Anniversary, the Alamo Drafthouse Mainstreet joined the New Braunfels Alamo Drafthouse Market Place and one Austin location on that list.

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