Elite Theatre

100 N. 16th Street,
Bethany, MO 65524

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Elite Theatre

Located on Water Street (today renamed 100 N. 16th Street). The Elite Theatre was opened as a movie theatre in 1914 and it closed in 1923 when the operator I. Walter Maple decided it was too small and moved his operation into the Auditorium Theatre which he renamed Cozy Theatre (it has its own page on Cinema Treasures).

Contributed by Chris1982

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dallasmovietheaters on September 1, 2022 at 10:38 pm

Reading the daily paper and the trade press, the information above appears to be incorrect. A reading of the daily press shows that the first places folks in Bethany, Missouri likely watched films were in its Opera House (opened in 1892 with films as early as 1903) or its venerable Auditorium Theatre (opened in 1890 and used for films during the early 1910s). With interest high in moving pictures in the early 1910s, the town also had two silent-era Airdomes (1915-1919), the Star Theatre (1910 to 1912), and the Elite Theatre (1914-1923).

I Walter Maple took on the Elite Theatre but - deciding it was too small and seemingly on a second level - moved to the former Auditorium Theatre turned Auditorium building. He created the Cozy Theatre in its lowest level. Maple operated it as a silent house from 1923 to 1929 on a 7-year lease. He then equipped it for sound for the Cozy to remain viable on a new lease. The Will Rogers' film “Mr. Skitch” appears to have been the final film at the Cozy as a fire early in the morning of February 2, 1934 destroyed the Auditorium building.

Cause of the fire was “not certain.” But since the film, “Roman Scandals” had been prepped for viewing and the fire’s origin was above street level from the Cozy Theatre with an explosion in that general vicinity, it’s not hard to imagine that the Cozy projection room led to yet another in a long line of nitrate film blazes.

The screenings were then moved for the next months to the Knights of Pythian Castle Hall, a local fraternal hall that had existed in that location since 1913. The theatre was called the Cozy-Castle and Castle in its brief operation. Maple then built a new venue, the Roxy, which launched in October of 1934. That was just nine days after Lester Robinson and Joe Noll of the new Noll Theatre had launched as the town had three theaters and just 2,200 residents. Because the Noll Theatre was built in the footprint of the Auditorium, according to the local paper, that would put this entry’s address at 1513 Central Street with operational names of the Cozy Theatre formerly the Auditorium Theatre and the Auditorium

The emergency replacement for Maple - the Cozy-Castle Theatre turned Castle Theatre closed permanently on December 15, 1934. Maple cited “bad roads” as the reason for closure instead of too many theaters in the small town. Maple retired in 1938 dying in 1942 but his Roxy Theatre had a long run, was renamed El Teatro Real and then the BigTime Cinema operating into the 2020s. Meanwhile, the footprint of the former Auditorium / Cozy became the new-build Noll Theatre which operated into the 1960s and was razed following a period of vacancy.

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