Bancroft Theater

4307 Troost Avenue,
Kansas City, MO 64110

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Functions: Housing

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The Bancroft Theatre was built in 1912 and launched January 1, 1913 by Fred L. Scott. It opened with the film, “Arizona” starring William Conklin. The theater was located just one block from the original Bancroft School in the Mannheim Park neighborhood. Pricing never went above ten cents during the theater’s run.

Scott moved on to manage the Apollo Theatre and the neighborhood Bancroft Theater got the first of many new operators. It was branded as, “The Home of Good Pictures and Music That Pleases”. The theater hosted a number of benefits for the Bancroft School and its Parent Teachers' Association (P.T.A.). Also during World War I, it hosted events including the Women of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) with all proceeds of a double feature including Charlie Chaplin’s “The Fireman” going to charity.

The Bancroft may best remembered for the many political rallies and speeches it hosted in its 15-year run. Raucous presidential speeches, independent candidates, and Senators graced the Bancroft Theater stage. Also, actor and Bancroft Elementary alum Lester Towne got his start at the Bancroft Theater singing and dancing before going to Hollywood and appearing in the feature film, “Duke of the Navy.”

Decoration of the theater was handled by the Marlborough Studios including flowers and lobby fixtures. But while other neighborhood theaters were converting to sound, the Bancroft Theater closed as a silent house following the the January 20, 1929 showing of Olive Borden in “Stool Pigeon” supported by a Pathé newsreel and a cartoon.

In 1932, the building just off of the Southeast corner of 43rd Street and Troost Avenue was sold and converted by the Acme Auto Livery Company to its second location of the Acme Garage & Drive Yourself. The big innovation there came from former Nash salesman Walter Root who invented a car alarm which tooted the horn when someone tried to steal an automobile’s spare tire. The former Bancroft Theater was then home to a decade’s-long running furniture store.

In the early-21st Century, the Bancroft School was closed and was converted to apartments bearing the school’s name thanks to funding from actor Brad Pitt. Meanwhile, the same conversion took place in the former Bancroft Theatre becoming a multi-person residential dwelling that was still in existence in the 2020’s.

(This listing is not to be confused with the Bancroft Theater that has its own Cinema Treasure listing which apparently existed in the sound era without advertising or trade press coverage and was across the street.)

Contributed by dallasmovietheaters
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