Missouri Theatre

307 S. 3rd Street,
Hayti, MO 63851

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dallasmovietheaters on April 25, 2019 at 7:27 pm

John L. Dorris was a co-founder of the Dorris and Dorris Electric Theatre / Airdome which launched in June of 1913 decided to build a new, all weather facility. The Dorris Theatre was built in the Northwest corner of the Hayti town square. The theatre launched May 27, 1914. Dorris sold the theatre in June of 1920 and the the new owners held a contest for a new name. H.P. Harbert chose Empress and that became the theater’s new name on June 24, 1920.

On March 23, 1929, new owners took over changing the name to the Maxy Theatre. The Maxy closed on July 11, 1932. New owners took on the Maxy renaming it the Missouri Theatre on August 28, 1932 launching with “Age for Love” with Billie Love. The theatre was destroyed by a fire in the projection on July 15, 1960.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 17, 2014 at 11:50 am

The Empress Theatre was in operation at Hayti, Missouri, at least as early as 1920, when the December 9 edition of The Missouri Herald gave this opinion:

“Manager Stewart of the Empress Theatre has been showing some exceptionally good pictures during the past two weeks. He informs us that more and better pictures are coming and that his patrons may expect an extra good headliner each week.”
The March 3, 1922, issue of the same paper reported that Wilbur Stewart had made several improvements to the Empress, including an enlarged stage, repainting, and the installation of a large electric light at the entrance. The improved house would now feature a four-piece orchestra.

This item from the April 11, 1917, issue of The New York Clipper doesn’t mention the Empress, or any other theater, but it indicates that Hayti did have a theater in operation at that time:


“Hayti. Mo.. April 7. — Angell’s Comedians, under the management of Billie O. Angelo have closed a season of forty-five weeks here last Saturday, and the various members have gone to their respective homes for a four-week vacation prior to the opening of the Summer tent season at Leon, la., the first week of May. Mr. Angelo went to Wichita, Kan.: Miss Delzeli, to St. Louis; Joseph Lehmann. to Kansas City; Miss Hebert, to Dallas; Mr. Swadley. to St Louis; Chief Meredith, to Tulsa, Okla. ; Mrs. Swadley, to Ottumwa, Ia.; Mr. Schmer, to Omaha, and The Langueins, to Omaha.”

William L. Slout’s book Theatre in a Tent says that traveling repertory companies such as Angell’s Comedians would spend about twenty weeks each year playing indoor theaters and then switch back to tent shows when the weather improved. It’s possible that the Empress was the theater they played in Hayti to close their 1916-1917 season.