Massac Theatre

119 W. Fifth Street,
Metropolis, IL 62960

Unfavorite 1 person favorited this theater

Showing 16 comments

stormdog on January 25, 2013 at 4:57 pm

I shot some photographs of the Massac Theater while on a road trip through Southern Illinois this past Summer. Here’s a link to the first one in my Flickr photostream.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 20, 2012 at 10:53 am

The correct spelling of the name of the architect of the Massac Theatre is Oliver W. Stiegemeyer, which is the way it is spelled in the 1956 and 1962 editions of the AIA’s American Architects Directory.

Johnmm on May 19, 2012 at 10:49 pm

The theatre is Being restored By is new Owner

Lisagower on July 26, 2011 at 7:07 am

According to the original newspaper article in the local Metropolis paper, the list of contractors are: Designing architect – O W Steigemeyer of St. Louis Contractor & Supervising Architect – E H Barenfanger of Salem, IL Interior Decorator – Archie Bethel of Mount Carmel, IL Air Conditioning by Betz Air Conditioning Corp, Kansas City Brick and Stone work – Barfield & Sons, Metropolis Concrete – Odis Oaks – Metropolis Roof & Metal – W. C. Scott – Metropolis Plumbing – Louis Laveau – Metropolis Electrical Wiring – Orval Conley – Metropolis

The Theatre had 542 seats on the main floor and 185 seats in the balcony. It also had a stage as well as the movie screen and hosted bluegrass bands, radio station grand openings, different traveling acts and even a cooking show.

They were very proud of the seats and the air conditioning system. Both were state of the art.

BrowncoatKal on July 25, 2011 at 9:49 pm

Hi I am a member of a Facebook group dedicated to saving the Massac Theater. We are trying to raise money to save the theater and bring it back to its former glory. The theater is in Metropolis, Il which is the official home of Superman. There is an official Superman Celebration the second weekend in June every year. Our goal is to try and raise enough money to have the theater renovated and open for the premier of the new Superman movie which is premiering on June 14, 2013. Please feel free to visit and “like” our page. Wee need all the help we can get. Thanks.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 4, 2011 at 4:27 pm

The URLs have been changed for the weblog posts by Michael Allen that I linked to in my previous comment:

Post about the New Merry Widow Theatre in St. Louis.

Post about the Massac Theatre.

I’m still trying to track down any confirmation of the surmise that Jack Shawcross was the architect of the Massac Theatre, but so far no luck.

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on March 4, 2011 at 10:07 am

From Metropolis an undated postcard view of the Massac Theatre.

CSWalczak on June 3, 2010 at 9:24 pm

A story about the efforts to restore this theater: View link

armyarch on April 27, 2010 at 11:04 am

The Massac Theater made the Landmarks Illinois 10 Most Endangered Historic Places List:

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 31, 2010 at 7:48 am

According to a report in Boxoffice of July 23, 1938, the general contractor for the Massac Theatre, Ed Barenfanger of Salem, Illinois, expected that the theater could be opened by late August or early September. There is today a Barenfanger Construction Company operating in Vandalia, Illinois. I wonder if it could be the successor firm of Ed Barenfanger’s operation and, if so, they might have old records about the Massac project?

I’ve been unable to find any mention in Boxoffice of the name of the architect of the Massac, but this web log post by Michael R. Allen, about the Merry Widow Theatre in St. Louis, points out the similarity between that house and the Massac, pictured in this web log post about the latter theater by the same author. Could the 1938 Massac have been designed by St. Louis architect Jack Shawcross, who designed the New Merry Widow a few years later?

inkedmonkey on July 10, 2009 at 1:13 pm

I had been saying for years how great it would be for the Massac Theater to be restored, and I was happy to hear that Lisa Gower and several other like-minded citizens in Metropolis had taken up the cause of preserving and protecting this wonderful old movie house.
While I can’t do much financially to help save the Massac, I have spoken with Lisa and donated my services as a videographer and film editor so we can create a documentary to capture the community’s memories of the theater, and to hopefully help bring in further financial support by educating people as to the dire need to restore this beautiful theater.
In order to do this, though, we’re going to need people who are willing to speak on camera. Even more important, we need pictures of the theater from its heyday- including pictures from inside and outside to show how the theater looked when it was operating. (And if anyone has any pictures from its opening- or from its early days- that would be a major windfall for this project!)
If anyone has any information or photos that they would like to contribute for this documentary, or if anyone would like to be interviewed or help out in the production, please email me at Beyond photos and interviewees, we just need someone who would be willing to donate their services as a hair and makeup person to help our interviewees look good on camera.

Lisagower on May 16, 2009 at 7:27 pm

Resurrect the past and protect the future. That’s the motto of the newly formed “Save the Massac Theater” organization in Metropolis, IL. With the blessing of the City Officials, we are going to try to bring this beautiful Art Deco Theater back to life. We have held two meetings with great response and have even received our first donation check. I would love any advice from successful organizers. We know it is going to be a long process but are keeping our eye on the prize.

carbonarcboy on April 1, 2009 at 8:20 am

Went to see her again only a shell of her former self. As I stood underneath the marquee got that sick feeling in my stomach. Just like seeing a family member on their deathbed (seen that too many times). I quess they will probably tear her down soon.
If you happen to be lucky enough to have an old movie palace in your town support it. If it is closed try to get like minded people such as yourself and save it. I came back to my hometown and reopened a twin that had been opened and closed many times over the last 15 years. The theatre had been converted into a church. Been open since 2005 and doing just great thanks to the wonderful people in the area. You will need the support of the community and a lot of hard work, but it is worth it. We renamed the theatre in honor and memory of the old downtown palace that once graced this little town of 10,000. So the PRINCESS lives on. Small town theatres can be a great asset to the community. This morning I am running a screening for the Kevil Center (center for mentally disabled adults) at 9:30 which we do every other week. Most of these great friends can’t get out in the public much. After the show they will come out and hug me and say thanks, what a wonderful feeling. Well its time to pop the popcorn and thread the projector got to go. If you would like some advice or help feel free to email me at been doing this for 34 years since I was 19. Lord I miss the carbon arcs.

carbonarcboy on December 10, 2007 at 11:59 am

I remember this great old lady well. I am wiping away tears as I write this. My wife and I were the last operators of this theatre. I came to Kentucky (were I was born) to my grandparents farm in Benton, KY for a visit. My grandfathers brother was in the Metropolis hospital and we went to see him. There was a “for rent” sign in the boxoffice window. To make a long story short I met Mr. Eddie Clark and ended up renting the theatre for a one year term. Sadly Mr. Clark died during heart surgery before we were able to get the theatre reopened. I did get a chance to sit down and talk to him about the good old days. The Massac had a balcony with a cry room and seperate restrooms. The ladies room on the main floor had a lounge room before you entered the main restroom. There was a big back stage area where we found a old piano and a big box of old speakers from the El Capatain Drive In Theatre that use to be there. In fact we would pass the old drive in site on the way to the theatre. The theatre office was upstairs just past the balcony (and behind the cry room) and I remember going thru a great deal of old theatre records and finding old issues of Boxoffice magazine.
The booth had Simplex E-7’s, sh1000 soundheads, Peerless Magnarcs and an old motor generator. The sound system was shot so I put in a new amp and replaces the old photo tubes with solar cells.
On opening night we sold out. I don’t remember what picture we opend with but it was a Disney because I have always open my theatres with Disney pictures. After lease was up we couldn’t afford to buy building so we had to leave. The old air conditioning system was so old that only one really old guy knew to work on it. How long ago that was I was only 22 at that time. I just wished I would of had known the fate that awaited her maybe I could of had done something.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on August 12, 2006 at 5:47 am

Details from the new book ‘Historic Movie Theatres in Illinois 1883-1960’ by Konrad Schiecke:
Massac Theatre, 119 W. 5th Street.
Opened:1938 Closed:1978 Seats:537

The theatre closed with the movie ‘Superman’. It was then used by a local radio station but now stands empty. The marquee remains, but there is a huge hole in the roof.

The Film Daily Yearbook:1950 edition gives a seating capacity of 600.

claydoh77 on December 30, 2004 at 1:24 pm

I don’t know anything about this theatre but just a business idea for someone looking for a new venture… How about regularly showing Superman movies for tourists in addition to regular fare for the locals? Metropolis, IL is the home of Superman after all & this town has all kinds of touristy Superman stuff from a Superman museum to a huge Superman statue. I don’t know if it would work but heck, it may be just quirky enough in this roadside attraction town.