Ben Bolt Theatre

828 Washington Street,
Chillicothe, MO 64601

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Additional Info

Architects: Robert O. Boller, Dietz Lusk Jr.

Firms: Boller & Lusk

Styles: Streamline Moderne

Nearby Theaters


The Ben Bolt Theatre was opened on August 18, 1949 with Doris Day in “It’s a Great Feeling”.

Unfortunately, this late Art Moderne gem was demolished in 1999.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 18 comments)

JohnMessick on December 15, 2007 at 1:58 pm

How could I purchase a photo of Mr. Max Thomas in front of the Ben Bolt(the picture that dateline describes in the above post)? I came across a picture of the Ben Bolt on the CinemaTour website and would like to add it to my collection

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 5, 2009 at 12:26 am

The July 2, 1949, issue of Boxoffice has an architect’s rendering of the proposed Ben Bolt Theatre. It, too, attributes the design to Boller & Lusk.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on March 25, 2011 at 6:00 pm

Unless I missed it somewhere up above BOXOFFICE reported the Ben Bolt was to be transformed into a Triple Theatre.The Downstairs theatre will have 350 seats and the two upstairs theatres will seat 200.Dolby Sound.Suppose to be ready for mid summer 1985. Source BOXOFFICE June 1985.

TLSLOEWS on March 26, 2011 at 10:56 am

Streamline Moderne was the thing in the 1940’s,very nice marquee for all you marquee people like me.

SethG on March 6, 2019 at 11:31 am

Just an empty dirt lot. What a stupid waste.

davidcoppock on March 7, 2019 at 12:00 am

Was there someone called Ben Bolt?

SethG on March 7, 2019 at 9:20 am

It was a play/opera, I believe. The man who wrote the music died in Chillicothe. There’s a zero milestone/memorial to him on the side of the drugstore on the square.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 7, 2019 at 4:15 pm

Thomas Kneass, who is buried in Chillicothe, adapted an old German melody to the 1840s poem “Ben Bolt” by Thomas Dunn English. The song was used in a play called “The Battle of Buena Vista” which was first staged during the war with Mexico.

MichaelKilgore on June 13, 2019 at 1:35 pm

The Ben Bolt Theatre was opened on Aug. 18, 1949, according to a note two days later in BoxOffice. It was built by Theatre Enterprises, Inc. “and named after the old song”. The first movie was It’s a Great Feeling.

“Two murals painted by Frank J. Zimmer, Los Angeles artist, are featured on the wall of the auditorium. Romance of the type suggested by the old song after which the theatre has been named is the theme of the murals, which are made more prominent with black light when the regular house lighting is low.”

50sSNIPES on October 20, 2023 at 10:54 am

The Ben Bolt Theatre also opened with the Bugs Bunny cartoon “Mississippi Hare”, the FrizPatrick’s Traveltalks short “Calling On Michigan”, and Pathe News.

In 1971, Commonwealth Theatres took over operations of the Ben Bolt, and in March 1985, an attempt on converting the single-screener into a triplex by adding two more screens in the upstairs section of the building failed for unknown reasons.

The Ben Bolt Theatre closed for the final time in February 1999 when the Grand 6 Cinemas opened on North Grand Drive, and was sadly demolished in September of that same year.

However in April 1999 while the theater was still abandoned, a group of members of the Fine Arts Theater Group of Kansas City rescued scavenged parts of the theater and managed to save items before demolition.

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