KINGMAN, Kansas (KSNW) – A century-old theater brings new life and new people to a Kansas city.
“It doesn’t matter how old you are or how old you are. You always get that excitement and that nostalgic feeling when you walk through the door. You realize this is a place of value, history, fun and excitement, ”said Deena Lampe, Executive Director of Kingman Historic Theater.
The Kingman Historic Theater was built in 1920 as a silent and vaudeville theater. Today it is a venue for cinema and live events enjoying much of the original art deco and historic charm.
“There is so much history here. The ticket office was once a cigar bar for men. They were serving peanuts on a cart in the lobby as a concession, ”Lampe explained.
Deena Lampe started her theater career about seven years ago. However, it was decades before that she first discovered space and all its wonders. Her grandmother grew up going to the theater.
“It cost a quarter and now I can bring my daughter here and relive the same excitement,” said Lampe.
This is one of the reasons that Lampe and the members of the theater board of directors are so passionate about preserving the theater’s rich history and its continued success.
“It’s not my theater or the set. It’s Kingman. It’s the Kingman community, ”said Lampe.
In order to keep this community alive, the members of the theater board had to be creative. Whether it’s with fundraising efforts or to attract new types of acts and movies.
“Films alone are not going to support us. We have good attendance, you know, most of the time, but the way the cinema goes most of the time, the money for the ticket goes to the big companies and so we mainly make our money with the concession and we try to keep it prices low enough that people can afford to come and have their kids there, ”said Janice Smith, vice-chair of the Kingman Historic Theater Board.
“One of the big things that we turned to was trying to get gigs and live music and part of that was taking a very small stage and adding it without completely changing the structure, so the stage it sits on now is actually built over the original pit orchestra, ”Lampe explained.
Through fundraising efforts and community tax credits, the theater has successfully made the transition from outdated equipment like projectors to digital operation. He modernized the roof of the building, bought a new screen, among other things. He also plans to install a new surround system in October. The ultimate goal? Keep the historic theater operational for years to come.
“We are here. We are delighted to be here. We are delighted with the future and have no plans to go anywhere, so we cordially invite anyone to take the short drive to Kingman, see what Kingman has to offer, ”Lampe said.