Boonville in Cooper County, Missouri — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
Thespian Hall, believed to be one of the oldest surviving theaters west of the Allegheny Mountains, brought culture to the frontier town of Boonville. In 1838 sixty leading citizens founded an all-male dramatic group called the Thespian Society. The Society used an old log building, a store and a courthouse for its activities.
In 1854 the Thespians purchased this lot at Main and Vine Streets for $500. In 1855, they incorporated as the Boonville Library, Reading Room, and Thespian Association. To raise the money needed to erect a building, they collaborated with the city government, the Masons, and the Odd Fellows. Together, they build [sic] this monument to the liberality and good taste of our citizens in the Greek Revival style. Thespian Hall opened to the public with a grand ball on July 3, 1857. City offices and lodges occupied the second story.
During the Civil War, both sides used the Hall as a barracks, horse stable, and hospital at various times. The Thespian Society disbanded, and the Hall passed into the hands of an original incorporator, Col. Joseph Lafayette Stephens. Among those who leased the Hall were a skating rink operator and the German Turn and Gesang Verein Society for their plays, music, and athletic events.
By April 1901, there was talk of demolishing the aging building, but the Stephens
By 1936, Fox proposed replacing the Hall with a modern movie place. Historian Charles Van Ravenswaay rallied concerned local citizens to mount a statewide preservation campaign. Bertha J. Hitch of Hannah Cole Chapter, DAR chaired the committee, which was one of the first efforts of its kind in Missouri. The Hall was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1969.
In May 1975 the Friends of Historic Boonville acquired the theater as a gift from the Kemper Foundation of Kansas City.
Erected 2008 by Hannah Cole Chapter and Missouri State Society, D.A.R.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Daughters of the American Revolution marker series.
Location. 38° 58.421′ N, 92° 44.583′ W. Marker Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 522 Main Street, Boonville MO 65233, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Capture of Union Troops (here, next to this marker); Hannah Allison Cole (approx. 0.2 miles away); David Barton (approx. 0.2 miles away); James Milton Turner (approx. 0.2 miles away); Walter Williams (approx. 0.2 miles away); Frederick T. Kemper (approx. ¼ mile away); George Caleb Bingham (approx. ¼ mile away); Capture of Boonville (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Boonville.
Also see . . .
1. Thespian Hall. (Submitted on August 13, 2011, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. History of Boonville, Missouri. (Submitted on August 13, 2011, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
Categories. • Arts, Letters, Music • Entertainment • Man-Made Features • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on August 13, 2011, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 458 times since then and 41 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on August 13, 2011, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.