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Folly Theater

2002 Photo from the Adam Martin collection.
300 W 12th St
Kansas City MO
(816) 842-5500

Visit Website Live Theatre National Register 1974
Record #10546  
 Opened: September 23, 1900
Capacity: 1078 seats
Architect(s): Louis S Curtiss
Architectural Style(s): Classical Revival
National Register: 1974    Bldg # 74001074
Current Organ: none
 Also Known As: Standard, Century, Shuberts Missouri

Information for this tour was contributed by Kansas City Public Library.

The Century Theater at 12th and Central, designed by Louis S. Curtiss, prominent Kansas City architect, was first called the Standard Theater. The owner, Edward J. Butler, was a wealthy real estate man from St. Louis.

The theater, together with an adjoining hotel, the Edward (razed in 1965) was a hub of activity during the early years of this century. Today it is an important survival of turn-of-the-century theater architecture in the downtown area.

The Standard opened Sept. 13, 1900, offering performances of burlesque comedy and vaudeville.

After a Jan. 31, 1901 fire which destroyed the Coates Opera House three blocks away, the bill included opera and comic performances transferred to the Standard from the Coates. It was at this time that such popular performers as Sarah Bernhardt, Maude Adams and Richard Mansfield, appeared.

In 1902 the theater's name was changed to the Century. Burlesque shows scheduled on the Empire Circuit were presented. Al Jolson, Fannie Brice and Eddie Foy were among the stars who appeared during this time.

Joe Donegan, manager of the theater and the Edward hotel from 1900 until 1922, scheduled special events, often prize fights and wrestling, on Saturday nights after the regular show. Among those appearing were Jack Johnson and Jack Dempsey.

The Shubert brothers purchased the theater in 1923 and renamed it Shubert's Missouri. During this era the theater produced legitimate drama, such as the plays of Eugene O'Neill and William Shakespeare.

With prohibition the theater and grill encountered hard times. The theater was intermittently open for touring shows and movies until it closed in 1932. Five years later it was auctioned for back taxes.

In 1941 the theater reopened as the Folly with strip-tease shows. Later X rated movies were added. The theater closed in December, 1973.

The building has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places because of its importance as an element in the history of Kansas City architecture, society and humanities.

The Performing Arts Foundation, which is purchasing the building, plans to restore and refurbish it.

Kansas City Times
December 28, 1974

 Photos remain the property of the Member and may not be reproduced without the written consent of the Member.

July 2002 photos from the Adam Martin collection.

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Photos from the Library of Congress collection.

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 Images remain the property of the Member and may not be reproduced without the written consent of the Member.

Postcards from the Kansas City Public Library collection.

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Last featured 3/8/2005. Last edited 6/25/2016.

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