Karyl Theatre

N. Main Street,
Milan, MO 63556

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Dickinson Theatres

Functions: Retail

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Chester L. Hurdle opened the Karyl Theatre on the East side of the Milan downtown square. It was necessitated after the Grandview Theatre was gutted by fire on February 11, 1933 - its second fire since opening as the Grand Theatre in May of 1930 (it has its own page on Cinema Treasures). The new theatre took about six weeks as a conversion of a former retail business.

The Karyl Theatre was veteran grocer Hurdle’s first theatre and it launched May 2, 1933 with Mae Clark in “The Parole Girl” supported by Julia Anderson in “Hear ‘em and Weep” and a one-reel film listed as “Soffey Cat”. Bathed in gold and black with a blue ceiling, the venue had 370 seats at launch with Harold McCracken in charge. The venue was named for Hurdle’s daughter, Karyl Mae Hurdle (Drexel). It was part of the community, even sponsoring a local softball team.

The Karyl Theatre stressed showmanship and even won a national prize for a Quaker Oats tie-up with various town businesses for its promotion of “Devil Dogs of the Air” in 1935 that included oatmeal cookies from the Milan Bakery and airplane model contest. For the 1940 World War I set film, “Thunder Afloat”, McCracken plastered the lobby with World War I Milan Republic newspaper clippings from the War and local W.W.I artefacts.

In 1938, the Dickinson Theatre Circuit took controlling interest and then - in 1948 - full interest in the venue. The theatre received a full-fledged air conditioning system becoming the coolest place in town. Dickinson would then reverse course, dropping the venue in the early-1950’s along with a number of other small-town locations. Shelby Armstrong of the competing Marty-Ann Theatre would take on the Karyl Theatre and then build the High 5 Drive-In on Highway 5 outside of town to have an impressive three-theatre town.

The Karyl Theatre was enlarged in 1950 as its last major refresh. The theatre operation in town went from three to two to one and then zero with all of the local venues shuttering.

Contributed by dallasmovietheaters
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