Royal Theatre

1022 Main Street,
Kansas City, MO 64105

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Additional Info

Architects: H. Alexander Drake

Nearby Theaters

1927 photo courtesy of the Who Knows East - Old Photographs Facebook page.

The Theatre Royal at 1022 Main opened here on June 10, 1914. It was forerunner of modern downtown motion picture palaces.

Frank L. Newman was born in Newark, NJ, to Jewish parents who died when he was quite young. A kindly Irish family reared him, and he helped them in their restaurant until he struck out for himself, earning $1.75 for an all night job in an iron foundry.

Married at 17, Newman saw his first movie in Montreal. He and his wife moved to St. Louis, where he borrowed $100 and with $25.00 he had saved, started a movie house with a partner. It was called the Royal. In 1909 he went to Joplin and opened another Royal and a few years later one in St. Joseph, also called the Royal.

An outcry arose when the Theatre Royal was being built in Kansas City in 1913. It was considered an undesireable intrusion in a strictly retail district. Merchants felt the two hours patrons spent inside the theater would mean less time for them to gaze into store windows and shop.

After the theater was in operation they felt differently, and in 1915 Robinson’s even opened a shoe store next door north (still there today).

The legend on the back of a post card of the theater reads: “Most beautiful house west of the Mississippi. Open 8:00 am to 11:00 pm. Ten piece orchestra. Mammoth Pipe Organ. Lounging room for gentlemen and Rest Room for Ladies with Maid attendant. Check room for Babies. Children’s Play Room. Strictly Fireproof.”

Newman later opened two more movie theaters in Kansas City, the Regent and the Newman. The Royal Theatre, as it was called in later years, was replaced in 1936 by retail stores.

Contributed by Chuck Van Bibber

Recent comments (view all 8 comments)

JimRankin on April 29, 2004 at 3:38 am

Tour of Missouri, Oklahoma and Kansas Theatres in 2004
From June 26 through July 1, 2004 the Theatre Historical Society of America will tour a number of theatres in Kansas City Missouri and surrounding areas, including theatres in Lamar, Joplin, Richmond, St. Joseph and Springfield, MO, as well as Miami, OK, and these cities in Kansas: Leavenworth, Kansas City, Emporia, El Dorado, Augusta, Wichita, Hutchinson, McPherson, Salina, Concordia, and Topeka. More information is contained on their web site: and special photos and information concerning the Kansas City theatres: UPTOWN and the MIDLAND is available on this temporary page of their site at: A glossy brochure about this “Heart of America” Conclave is available from the Society’s headquarters listed on their homepage, via E-mail to the Ex. Director, or via snail mail. Membership in the Society is not required to attend the Conclave and tour the theatres, but fees do apply as detailed on their site. Bring your camera and lots of film, for it is usually difficult or impossible to enter these theatres for photos, and some of them will surely not be with us in the years to come.

claydoh77 on January 16, 2005 at 8:04 pm

Here is a link to a photo of the Royal Theatre from 1928:
View link

kencmcintyre on December 30, 2006 at 6:39 pm

The Royal owners installed a marquee in 1932, which displeased the shoe store adjacent:

jumpinjiminy on September 19, 2007 at 7:18 am

The area where the Royal was located is now a multilevel parking lot. Most of the demolished theater locations in downtown Kansas City are now parking lots.

kcfan on February 20, 2009 at 3:12 pm

H. Alexander Drake was the Architect for the the Royal Theater, according to the architectural records I viewed at Western Historical Manuscripts Collection, University of Missouri-Kansas City. They have some blue prints showing the front elevation, auditorium, balcony and orchestra pit. No photos though. Thanks to Lost Memory for finding the gems in above post.

kcfan on June 16, 2009 at 4:25 pm

Here are a couple of photos of the Royal Theater, including an interior shot from the Dr. Kenneth J. LaBudde Special Collections Department, University of Missouri-Kansas City.

DavidZornig on August 27, 2015 at 7:29 pm

Stunning 1927 photo added courtesy of the Who Knows East – Old Photographs Facebook page.

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