Vista Theatre

202 W. Main Street,
West Plains, MO 65775

Unfavorite 1 person favorited this theater

Additional Info

Architects: Robert O. Boller

Firms: Boller Brothers

Functions: Furniture Showroom

Styles: Streamline Moderne

Previous Names: Davis Theatre

Nearby Theaters

Vista Theatre

The Davis Theatre was opened on October 6, 1930 with William Haines in “Way Out West”. This attractive yellow brick facade is located just west of the courthouse. There is an unusual amount of upper story glazing, including a large vertical window in the center, flanked by two pieces of ornamental concrete. It was closed on March 30, 1958, but reopened on June 5, 1958 renamed Vista Theatre. It closed on March 31, 1962 with “The Three Stooges Meet Hercules” & “Underwater Guy”. The ground floor is now home to the Norman Orr office furniture store.

A rather shoddy acoustic drop ceiling has been installed on the ground floor. Mounting brackets for five letters are visible, suggesting that the last marquee was nothing special, probably just cruddy interior-lit plastic.

Many thanks to Charles Van Bibber for confirming the identity.

Contributed by Seth Gaines

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

Seth on August 26, 2004 at 1:56 pm

Just noticed that Charles had provided the opening date in our correspondence. The theater opened in 1949.

grigsby63 on September 17, 2005 at 12:30 pm

Thought I would add a little bit of info about the Davis. My family now owns the building as well as Norman Orr Office Supply which has occupied the building since late 1985. Unfortunately when the davis closed (date unknown) it was converted into retail space. Before we moved the office supply store there it was occupied by a Montgomery Ward catalog store. The five mounting brackets where for the W-A-R-D-S sign and are not the original brackets for the Marquee. I have an old picture that was in the local newspaper, and you can see the original marquee, Unfortunately it is blocked in the picture by a telephone pole. I believe it reads Vista. I spent most of the day today removing the metal panels on the bottom floor of the building that, for some reason, where installed in the 60’s. The brick underneath is in excellent shape. Under the panels on both sides of the west window are built in frames for movie poster that were preserved perfectly underneath the siding. I was really surprised to find them! There also was a sizable awning over the western window, which used to serve as the front door of the theater. It was removed, I assume, when the bulding was converted. The inside is a total mess!! The balcony, Light fixtures, decorations where all removed long ago. The original water fountain and one of the brass light fixtures can be seen in th upstairs of the opera house. I think they they where removed from the dumpster during the gutting of the building. The back of the bulding (where the screen used to be) was filled in with concrete so that Montgomery Ward could have a Tire and Battery shop in the back end of the building. Sadly the inside is beyond restoration, but I am doing my best to renovate the outside to its original grandeur. If anybody has any info or old photographs of the Davis theater, Please let me know.

grigsby63 on February 7, 2007 at 2:51 pm

The opening of the theater should be listed as 1930. Confirmed by old newspaper articles.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 27, 2009 at 8:50 pm

The Davis Theatre was renamed the Vista Theatre in 1958, after the Davis family sold the house. I’ve found no mentions of the Vista Theatre in Boxoffice after 1958, though.

Dean Davis died in 1953, and Boxoffice published an obituary in its February 7 issue. The obituary said that he built the Davis Theatre in West Plains in 1927 (but didn’t name the source for the date) and that the house originally had 620 seats. The additional seating must have been in the missing balcony Grigsby mentions in his Sep 7, 2005, comment above.

At the time of his death, Davis also operated the Avenue theater and a drive-in at West Plains, and the Davis and Cameo Theatres and a drive-in at Mountain Grove MO.

50sSNIPES on December 23, 2023 at 10:26 am

Dean W. Davis, who operated many theaters and drive-ins across Missouri and Illinois, opened his Davis Theatre in West Plains on October 6, 1930 with William Haines in “Way Out West” along with a comedy and a newsreel with sound installations of Western Electric.

The Davis Theatre housed 620 seats (with 500 in the main auditorium and 120 in the balcony), and the building measures 40x90ft.

Dean died from an unexpected heart attack on January 30, 1953, but his legacy theater continues to live on by his brother, Dean W. Davis Jr., who would later install its 16x32ft CinemaScope screen the following year on November 26, 1954, just on time for the city’s showing of “The Robe”.

After closing on March 30, 1958 with Eddie Fisher in “Bundle Of Joy”, the theater was taken over by both Mr. and Mrs. Frank Hall and Mr. and Mrs. Pete Faddis. The Davis Theatre was renamed the Vista Theatre and reopened on June 5, 1958 with a one-day showing of “The Careless Years”.

The theater closed for the final time on March 31, 1962 with “The Three Stooges Meet Hercules” and “Underwater Guy”, after Ferris’s lease of the theater was expired.

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment

Subscribe Want to be emailed when a new comment is posted about this theater?
Just login to your account and subscribe to this theater.