Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Landers "Little" Theater - Springfield

The historic Landers Theatre is located at 311 East Walnut in Springfield. It opened on September 18, 1890, with the production: "Golden Girl." The total capacity of the theater was 824 and at the time had the second largest stage in the entire state.

The Landers Theatre started out showing vaudeville type shows weekly eventually going on to host some other famous performers including Lon Chaney, John Philip Sousa and Lillian Russell. In 1927 the Landers became the 35th theater in the United States to show "talkies," showing Al Jolson in "The Jazz Singer."

On December 17, 1920, the Landers suffered a major fire. An asbestos curtain and other fireproofing precautions kept the theater from being a total loss. A janitor was killed in the fire and according to several sources, he still haunts the theater to this day (along with several other ghosts)!

The theater was rebuilt in 1922 and ran continuously through the 1960s as a motion picture theater. Springfield Little Theatre purchased the building in 1970 (Changing the name from "Landers Theater" to "Springfield Little Theatre") and the first Little Theatre production shown at the Landers was "The Importance of Being Earnest." In 1980 the Little Theatre expanded the lobby eastward, added a refreshment bar, handicap ramp and a restroom on the main floor. They removed the separate ticket booth and entrance for "colored people" at the same time.

The Springfield Little Theater was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.

You can learn more about the history of the theater and get ticket information by clicking here.

You can read more about the spooky Lander's Hauntings by clicking here and here.

1 comment:

  1. I have been to several productions at this theater including Oklahoma and Seven Brides For Seven Brothers. It is a very beautiful theater and the productions are always very good, any seat is a great seat, except they seem very tiny and close together. You guys will have to go sometime when you move here.