Kenesaw Theatre

N. Smith Avenue,
Kenesaw, NE 68956

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Additional Info

Previous Names: Kenesaw Opera House, New Walt's Theatre, Walt's Theatre, Melguinn Theatre

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The 300-seat Kenesaw Opera House opened December 15, 1910 with the rural drama, “The Farmer’s Daughter” on its stage. The venue built by Dr. W.J. Latta was purportedly destroyed by fire in 1912. The Kenesaw Opera House was back operating in 1913 again with 300 seats either in a newly-identified converted venue or, far more likely, in the same spot now repaired. On December 15, 1915, the Opera House finally succumbed to showing motion pictures - a move that it didn’t take lightly - with “That Million Dollar Look”.

The lure of five and ten cent entertainment became more appealing than the live stock plays and movies found a regular home at the Kenesaw Opera House. On May 9-10, 1917, the Kenesaw Opera House had a huge hit with “Birth of a Nation.” But give the operators credit for continuing to mix in live plays into the 1920s - long after many small town opera houses had either closed permanently or switched to policies of full-time films.

In 1925, the Kenesaw Opera House had transitioned to a policy of films with some live vaudeville mixed in. In December of 1927, the venue was renamed as Walt’s New Theatre / Walt’s Theatre under the operation of Walter C. Schultz. With the adoption of sound by theatre in nearby towns, Walt installed sound beginning on June 7, 1930 - but not just any sound. The sound system was created by their own projectionist, Harvey Block, working with Holtstein’s projectionist at the Moon, Margel Clark.

The Depression was not kind to Walt’s Theatre. The venue announced its closure in March of 1931 and, for old time’s sake, brought in one more live play, “Yimmy Yonson Yob” on March 11, 1931. The last film to play at the theatre was John Wayne in “The Big Trail” on March 21, 1931.

New operator Melvin Guinn took on the venue and, after a naming contest, renamed the venue as the Melguinn Theatre fusing the owner’s name into its new moniker. It relaunched on July 11, 1931 with Charles Farrell in “Body and Soul” supported by a two-reel comedy short and newsreel. On August 15, 1931, new operator C.H. Carney operated the venue briefly before closing. It relaunched as the Kenesaw Theatre in 1932 under new operators. It operated very sporadically apparently closing after the last advertised showing of Richard Dix in “Devil’s Squadron” on February 20, 1937.

Contributed by dallasmovietheaters
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