The theater was built in 1949 by I.W. Rodgers and was the largest theater between Memphis, Tenn., and St. Louis, Mo., at the time.
At almost 60 years old, the theater stands as a tribute to a bygone era, and the only theater still standing in Poplar Bluff from that era.
The theater, which opened on June 1, 1949, occupies 11,648 square feet. When it opened, it contained 1160 red plush "Bodyform" seats, 20 of which were equipped with hearing aid attachments. It also had a cry room for small children and their mothers, which was soundproof and fully air conditioned.
The Rodgers' family operated the theater for 52 years, before selling it to Kerasotes Brothers Theaters in 1966. Kerasotes closed the theater in May 1998 after building a multiplex on Highway 67 in Poplar Bluff. The Rodgers Theater was then donated to Butler County in Jan. 1999.
The theater has been deemed structurally sound and the renovation has begun. The current plan is to restore the theater and make it available for live performances and other community events.
The office space attached to the theater will be used by the county government.
Several music shows have begun playing at the Theater since 2007 with proceeds going to restore the building.
"So many people have contributed, it would be difficult to name them all, but it is on its way to becoming the grand building that it once was and will be an attraction for all of Southeast Missouri and Northeast Arkansas for years to come," said Brent Davis, entertainment director.