Kerr Theatre

743 W. Second Street,
Hastings, NE 68901

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Publix

Architects: C.C. Rittenhouse

Previous Names: Kerr Opera House

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William Kerr wanted to make a splash in working with architect C.C. Rittenhouse on the new Kerr Opera House in 1883 and 1884. The ornate structure cost the equivalent of $1.6 million 21st Century dollars and was both ornate and considered to be the one of the finest halls between Omaha and Denver. The Opera House mostly featured live performances in its run including opening night of December 23, 1884, when Grau’s Traveling Repertory Company performed operettas, “The Queen’s Lace Handkerchief”, “Oliver”, and “The Little Duke”. Buffalo Bill Cody and Presidents William H. Taft and Theodore Roosevelt were said to have appeared on the stage.

But the money in the 1910’s and 1920’s was in motion pictures. The Kerr Opera House would change its name to the Kerr Theatre and mix in more film content between live stage plays and operas. Probably most remembered was a February 1916 engagement of “The Birth of a Nation” with live orchestra and reserved seating. The Kerr Theatre also converted to sound to show talkies. The Kerr and Palm theatres even ended up in the Publix Circuit Holdings when it went bankrupt.

The final event there was the Little Theatre of Hastings live production of “Oh,Professor!” on September 19, 1935. The Kerr Theatre was gutted in January of 1938 with decade’s old fixtures tossed out. A bank moved into the structure followed by retail stores. In January of 1949, the former Kerr Theatre was demolished by American Lumber and Wrecking of Omaha for the J.M. McDonald Company Department Store. That building was still in use for other retail purposes in the 21st Century.

Contributed by dallasmovietheaters
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