Carver Theatre

2605-2607 Prospect Avenue,
Kansas City, MO 64127

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Fox Midwest Theatres

Functions: Church

Styles: Streamline Moderne

Previous Names: Airdome, Prospect Theatre

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The original Prospect Theatre opened on Prospect Avenue at 35th Street in 1910 in Kansas City. An Airdome operated at 2605 Prospect Avenue by W.G. Smith in 1912 showed motion pictures. On January 29, 1914, the new Prospect Theatre replaced the Airdome opening with Cyril Scott in “Arizona,” a six-reel film directed by Augustus Thomas who also had written the late-19th Century play. In its second year of operation, the theatre utilized a Simplex Electric Sign as a mobile billboard to get feature information out to pedestrians, street car riders and passing motorists. It would also print a Prospect Moviegram to a subscriber list to further spread the word.

Under operators Jay Means and P.A. “Gibby” Gibbons, the Prospect Theatre was remodeled in 1923 and was under common operation as the Murray Theatre. Both were picketed almost immediately thereafter by union workers. The theatre made news on July 23, 1925 when a crowd exiting the theatre saw almost the same police raid reflected on the screen transpiring in a government narcotics raid at the neighboring drug store. Some 400 people gathered not knowing if this was part of the showmanship arranged by Jay Means. But it turned out it was a real raid over illegal morphine sales. The crowd was dispersed by officers and Means was told that any repeat performance the next night would require a doubling rates. The theatre also did grocery give-aways including well publicized live poultry raffles.

In January of 1929 when the Prospect Theatre was testing Photophone equipment to convert to sound, thieves made off with the expensive equipment. The theatre did make the conversion to sound and appears to have become an African-American movie house for ten years closing at the end of a 25-year lease in 1939.

New operators relaunched as a White theatre on September 4, 1940 with a double feature of “Topper Takes a Trip” and “Gunga Din.” The theatre switched back to an African-American house just prior to World War II likely on a new 20-year lease. Fox Midwest Theatres took on the venue and, in 1947, demolished all but two walls of the Prospect Theatre.

It was renamed the Carver Theatre, an impressive $125,000 streamlined movie theatre. On November 25, 1957, the theatre was evacuated from the auditorium when a fire broke out in the basement. The film playing was, “Fire Down Below”. The theatre - officially at 2607 Prospect - made it to the end of its lease and was offered for sale in 1961.

The Carver Theatre became the Carver Ballroom soon thereafter with live music and dancing. In the 2020’s, the theatre was home to the Emmanuel Temple Pentecostal Church.

Contributed by dallasmovietheaters
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