Willow Springs

Ozark Theaters

By Joshua Heston

Movie palaces. Vaudeville! The Weaver Brothers & Elviry. The Grand Palace. The Landers. The Fox. The Gillioz. The Aud. Theaters have a way of simply being involved in Ozarks culture and history.

Whether it be a small-town, Art Deco movie house (once resounding with the sounds of Roy Rogers or Snow White) or a transition “palace” designed to usher theater goers into a fantasy, other world experience (whether that be a live dance show or a Jimmy Stewart flick), the great theaters of the Ozarks became an integral part of our culture.

May they, like the Hollywood icons of old, live forever in our hearts.

From Voices on the River:

Restless Sol Smith had been trouping with Western theatrical groups; he would later team up with Noah Ludlow to establish theaters at Louisville, St. Louis and New Orleans.

A native of New York he had a frontiersman’s love of chance and change, but his habitual good luck failed him on the river.

In Cincinnati he fitted out the Floating Palace with pantry stores, stage properties and a crew of actors. The next day his boat collided with an upbound packet. His people waded ashore where they watched the Palace sink to the river bottom.

— Walter Havighurst

plate 1. The Star Theatre and Downtown Willow Springs, Missouri, at night fall.

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plate 2.

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plate 3.

Ozark Theaters photo plates. Photo credits: J. Heston. All Plates, Star Theater, Willow Springs, Missouri (10/10/10).

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Ozark Theaters

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Josh@StateoftheOzarks.net

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