The Lost Auditorium
In 2000, the roof of the 1900 theater suffered a partial collapse, then total collapse.
Almost the entire interior was destroyed by this catastrophe.
A successful application to the Kansas Heritage Trust Fund enabled a new roof to be installed.
Then, the destroyed interior, which had been rained on for years, was scooped out.
The lobby, thanks to the efforts of engineer Mike Schmidt, was saved and it is possible to restore it.
But the auditorium is gone. The balcony is gone. Even the auditorium floor is gone. The interior of the stone structure is, today, largely an empty shell.
These images proved surprising.
For, the lost auditorium was a lot simpler than imagined. This is good actually because simple is much more cost effective to recreate than elaborate!
Speaking for myself, I would love to see an accurate recreation of the lost auditorium, including resurrecting the two Art Deco ladies! There would be modern stage lighting of course, an incredible sound system, and comfortable seats.
Under the auditorium is a whole other level, the former ballroom. I can see this being sleekly modern! This is where the bathrooms would be, and a catering kitchen. The current plans are to have the ballroom available as an events space, with access to a south garden, and to a “secret garden” to the north. Parking will be to the west.
A project like this will be many many years in the making. But when I moved to Kansas in 1996 the Granada Theater in Emporia was closed and with a roof pouring water into the ruined building. The city wanted the structure demolished.