Abdallah Temple

513 Shawnee Street,
Leavenworth, KS 66048

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Abdallah Temple

This theater was constructed sometime between 1897 and 1905. It replaced a ‘stone breaking yard’ which seems to have been associated with a city jail at the rear of the lot. The 1905 map shows it as Crawford’s New Opera House, and that year’s Cahn guide calls it the Crawford Grand Opera House. It almost certainly never showed films under either name.

The building was a high single story building with a pitched roof. The balcony was a very deep U-shape. Oddly, the stage house at the rear was offset slightly from the rest of the building.

By 1913, this had become the Abdallah Temple. It’s very likely this was associated with the Shriners. By 1926, this appears in cinema listings, although it is not listed in 1914. It’s unclear how long this operation ran, but the building was demolished many years ago, and the site is a parking lot.

Contributed by Seth Gaines

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 29, 2024 at 10:22 pm

There is some conflicting information in the book History of Leavenworth County, by Jesse A. Hall and Leroy T. Hand, published in 1921, which says that “[t]he old Crawford Grand Opera House was erected in 1880. It… will be remembered by many of the old timers of the present day. It was located on Shawnee street, south side, between Fifth and Sixth streets, and was erected by a stock company of which H. D. Rush was president. It played for years to large audiences and always showed the very best bills. In 1910 the building was sold to the Abdallah Shrine and after being thoroughly overhauled, has been since used as a Shrine Temple.”

If the Opera House doesn’t show up on Sanborn Maps prior to 1905, it’s safe to assume that Messrs. Hall and Hand were misinformed about its construction date. There must have been an earlier Crawford’s Opera House at a different location, and “Crawford’s New Opera House” was built after 1897 to replace it. There are multiple references to a Crawford’s Opera House at Leavenworth prior to 1897, but I’ve been unable to discover its address. Internet searches are complicated by the fact that there was more than one Crawford’s Opera House, and most search results concern the larger theater of that name in Topeka.

At the time the book I cited was published in 1921, the Shriners were building a new temple on land adjacent to the former Crawford’s. It might be that the old building became a full time movie theatre when the new Temple was completed, but if so it probably would not have been listed as the Abdallah Temple, as that name would have belonged to the new building.

SethG
SethG on May 30, 2024 at 12:59 am

I wonder if the listing should not really belong to the newer building constructed next door. It must have been to the west, since the building to the east on the 1905 map is still there.

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