Woods Theatre

510 D Street,
Fairbury, NE 68352

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dallasmovietheaters on November 3, 2020 at 1:51 pm

The original Majestic Theatre launched December 7, 1908 by Floyd L. Kerns showing motion pictures in the Steele Opera House building with 700 seats. It was his second theatre after the short-lived Parlin Theatre in Fairbury. The theatre was so successful that a new Majestic Building was built in 1910. The $15,000 New Majestic has 480 seats and opened on October 24, 1910 with Nebraska Governor Ashton C. Shallenberger giving the opening speech. The Majestic operated to the end of a 20-year lease not converting to sound. The competing Bonham Theatre did convert to sound with the Majestic used for sporadic live events including boxing and plays.

T.J. Kempkes took on the venue reopening with RCA sound showing the Astaire and Rogers film, “Top Hat” at the Majestic’s grand reopening on April 12, 1936. Tri-States operated the theatre closing it for regular showings on January 11, 1942 with “All that Money Can Buy.” There were sporadic events scheduled thereafter but the Bonham was the town’s motion picture venue.

New operator Ira Crain took on the Majestic and, following a refresh, reopened it as the Woods Theatre on December 25, 1951 with “Yesterday’s Hero.” His original intent was to operate the Jack Rabbit Drive-In Theatre in the warm months and the Woods Theatre in the wintry months. But Crain apparently demoralized by constant rain decided to close the Jack Rabbit permanently when the Woods was almost ready. Final seat count at the Woods was 462.

The Woods Theatre then closed on December 15, 1955 with a double feature of “You’re Never Too Young” and “The First Traveling Saleslady.” Crain took on the managerial role at the Bonham Theatre. Again, the Bonham was the sole movie theater in town. The building was converted to the local Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation (A.S.C.) office.

(To address the comments above, the Pla-Mor was a bowling alley with popular Play-Mor Café.)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 21, 2017 at 8:29 pm

Boxoffice of January 26, 1952, reported that the former Majestic Theatre at Fairbury, which had been closed for some time, had been renovated and reopened in late 1951 as the Woods Theatre. Seating had been reduced to 468. The item noted that the house was across from something called Pla-Mor, but failed to say what Pla-Mor was. It turns out that Pla-Mor is a bowling alley and cafe, still in operation, having now outlasted the theater by about six decades.

I haven’t been able to determine the closing date of the Woods Theatre, but it was in operation at least as late as February, 1955, when it was showing Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window. I’ve found a reference to a two-week revival meeting being held at the Woods in 1958, so it had possibly closed by then, but had not yet been dismantled. By June, 1959, the theater had been converted to offices for the Jefferson County Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation committee, the formal opening taking place that month.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 21, 2017 at 8:00 pm

The March 22, 1919, issue of The Moving Picture World had an item about the operators of the Majestic:

“Bartlett & Son Are Progressive.

“C. W. Bartlett & Son, proprietors of the Majestic Theatre, seating 700, and another smaller house in Fairbury, Neb., keep a high average of regular business by sending out specially prepared house organs to a mailing list of 1,500 people living in Fairbury, in the surrounding country and in nearby towns. The Bartlett paper is run on the style of the city newspaper moving picture sections, with reviews of the coming pictures and some interesting material about stars known to the Bartlett patrons. The papers are sent out regularly, and are eagerly looked for. They were used to send out coupons addressed to the state senator and representative from that district protesting against the censorship bill proposed in Nebraska.”

Predator on October 20, 2017 at 11:48 am

Information from the National Register of Historic Places.

“The Majestic Theater was constructed circa 1912 at 510 D Street and added to the entertainment choices of Jefferson County residents. With the increasing popularity of motion pictures, theater owners began erecting architecturally significant buildings to offer an enchanting atmosphere to patrons. These motion picture houses were usually located in the heart of the commercial district.

The 1926 Bonham Theater stands as a fine example of this new type of entertainment facility. Located at 519 E Street, the theater was constructed at a cost of $100,000. In 1929, the first talking picture was shown in the Bonham. Undoubtedly the owner of the Bonham had marketing of his business in mind when, in 1940, he hired Hanns Teichert of Chicago to remodel the interior of the theatre."