Early History & Birth of Twilight Theatre


In September of 1916, private entrepreneurs H.W.Wacker and H.L. Miller started construction on a brickbuilding to be utilized as an opera house.  By January of 1917, the facility was nearing completion and quickly was leased, then purchased, by Charles Spainhour.This building marked the beginning of a new era in entertainment.  Seating was rated at 750 plus the galleries,with modern opera chairs and other fine modern conveniences.  The large stage had six complete settings made by the Kansas City Scenic Company, with an adjoining orchestra platform.  The building interior was beautifully painted and decorated throughout, being accented by a 24’ ceiling. A portico built on the front of the building was designed as a band stand. Two small stores on either side of the entrance were utilized as a barber shop and piano store.  Set to open on April 16, 1917, the first performance was provided by The Benjamin Stock Company. About two weeks later, the first movie made its debut consisting of a war picture substituted at the last moment.  The local orchestra gladly donated their time for the event.  During March of 1923, interior redecoration and renovations were undertaken to improve the theatre’s appearance.  An important addition was the installation of two new Powers 6B motor driven projectors with a Minusa screen.

Charles Spainhour sits in the Twilight Theatre lobby. The year was 1941.

Charles Spainhour sits in the Twilight Theatre lobby. The year was 1941.

The grand opening of the 1923 renovation was highlighted by patrons given the opportunity to rename the facility.  By April of 1923, The Opera House & Auditorium was subsequently renamed “The Twilight.”  Re-opening was highlighted by special music provided by the High School Orchestra with vocal performances by Pauline Cox, Jaunita Winters, and Floyd Alton.  The opening feature film, “Smilin’ Through,” was thoroughly enjoyed by the audience.  Early programming included silent-film showings,vaudeville and other performing arts troupes, amateur competitions for comedic and musical performances-plus rallies for War Bonds or Savings Certificates, and Red Cross membership drives. With the increasing popularity of films, live stage performances were discontinued around 1930.



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