Location: 522 Main Street
Named: Thespian Hall, Opera House, Movie House, Train Office
Built: 1855 to 1857, opened July 3, 1857
This magnificent four-story Greek Revival building, located on the corner of Main and Vine Streets. took two years to complete.
The story of Thespian Hall began with a small, male dramatic group named the "Thespian Society" wanting a home for the performing arts that would express their nobility for the citizens. Money was raised through bond sales to individuals and donations from The City of Boonville, the Odd Fellows, The Masons, and the Thespian Society. The building cost $16,000 -- not including the $500 lot fee.
It opened July 3, 1857, following several ceremonies culminating with a grand ball to celebrate Independence Day. The first floor was used for performances. The two upper floors were used as private offices.
During the Civil War Thespian Hall served as a hospital.
This historic building was used continuously for 125 years. It has had many names in addition to "Thespian Hall-- including "Opera House," "train office," and the "Lyric Theater" -- a movie house.
The Hall began to decline in 1928 use when a German family, "The Turners," owned the building. They limited stage offerings to local talent and offered a limited variety of performances. Local performers lost were divided and lost interest. The Turners sold the hall to the Midland Theater and Realty Company of Kansas City for use as a movie theater.
In 1975 the Friends of Historic Boonville received Thespian Hall as a gift from the Kemper Foundation of Kansas City. With their help, the friends have been able to restore the building. Once again, Thespian Hall serves as a home for the performing arts. It is acknowledged as the oldest Theater still in use west of the Alleghenies.
Thespian Hall was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1969.
This page was constructed by: Amanda Dodson
This project was funded through a grant from the Boonville Tourism Commission
For more information this specific historical site click here.