Pratt's Theatre

11 W. 6th Street,
Fulton, MO 65251

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Pratt’s Theatre was initially an opera house, constructed some time after 1902, most likely by/for J.R. Pratt. It was a wide brick building with a two story fly tower at the rear. If I understand the notations on the Sanborn maps, it was either a very tall one story, or went from one to two stories, most likely toward the front, although the slope is very gentle. The 1907 Cahn guide credits it with a capacity of 800. By 1917, it is noted as showing ‘Moving Pictures & Vaudeville’. The theatre was directly across the street from the Gem Theatre. Street number was likely 11 or 13. It was demolished years ago, and the site is now a parking lot for an ugly modern bank.

Contributed by Seth Gaines

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50sSNIPES on May 19, 2024 at 3:06 pm

The idea of Pratt’s Opera House came exactly almost four months after the original Fulton Opera House was destroyed by a fire.

In late-April 1903, a deal was both closed and accepted to build a 900-seat opera house in Fulton as it was decided when the Ways and Means committee appointed by the citizens' meeting consummated the final arrangements with John Pratt for the construction of his playhouse to cost not less than $12,000. According to a previous meeting, the committee asked for an extension of time in order to perfect its subscription list and get the same in more secure shape by ten days. After carefully canvassing the situation, the committee discovered that $100 was still lacking to make up the necessary $3,000 bonus but notwithstanding the resolution being unanimously adopted that authorize Pratt to proceed with the erection of the playhouse. They later launched a public enterprise that has not only labored diligently and untiringly for the successful outcome of the project.

Construction started several months later from both his theater and the neighboring Arlington Hotel that was both led by Contractor Braun. During the final touches, Claude Wilkerson became the manager of the theater. At the same time, Wilker booked the Quincy Adams Sawyer Company for a production that will give in Fulton that finished a two-week engagement in the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago, exactly three weeks before the catastrophic 1903 Iroquois Theatre Fire. Due to multiple delays throughout the first quarter of 1904, its formal opening was rescheduled from late December 1903 to March 1904.

After all the delays, the Pratt’s Opera House opened its doors on March 14, 1904 with a live presentation of Walker Whiteside in “We Are King”. Throughout its history, it had a couple of renames. It was once renamed Pratt’s Theatre and finally known as simply Pratt Theatre.

The Pratt Theatre continued operating as both a special events and vaudeville house until closing in 1937.

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