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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Rodgers Theater: Breathing new life into a symbol of a previous era...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Rodgers Theater, located at Poplar Bluff, Mo., has began a restoration process to make the theater available for live performances and community events. Photo provided
POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- In an effort to breath new life into a symbol of a previous era, residents of Poplar Bluff are trying to restore the old Rodgers Theater, located at the corner of Pine and Broadway, into a place for live performances and community events.

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.

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Z95 The Bone presented (BoneStock) one of the largest local concerts around and gave the proceeds to towards the theater. I wonder how much more they need?

-- Posted by BadBones on Thu, Oct 16, 2008, at 12:16 PM

I would imagine quite a bit for this project. A restoration of this kind requires quite a bit of financial backing.

-- Posted by deannacoronado on Thu, Oct 16, 2008, at 2:34 PM

This is so wonderful! They've restored several theaters in Springfield, Mo., and I think it's a terrific idea! I would definitely go to P.B. to see a performance in the old theater.

-- Posted by goat lady on Sat, Oct 18, 2008, at 10:03 PM

I think it's wonderful they are restoring the Rodger's. All projects are costly but some are more worthy than others. As with the depot building in Poplar Bluff, it would be horrible to lose this piece of history.

-- Posted by SKDellinger on Tue, Oct 21, 2008, at 8:24 AM

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