Kansas City was born with a rebel spirit. The year is 1927. Picture the Mafia, a booming Jazz scene, World Series winning Monarch baseball, bootleggers at every corner, a national railroad hub, and extravagant live entertainment. In essence, Kansas City was the Crossroads of America (and it still is). At the center of this thriving year, the Midland Theater opened its doors for the first time – bringing a liveliness to KC that will live for generations.
Living in KC, we’re no strangers to the Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland. The diverse events that come through range from a Tech N9ne concert to a private charity casino night. Either way, in the last eight years, the Midland has gone from a defunct AMC Theaters venture to a resurrection of a historic Kansas City mainstay.
Bringin’ it Back
The Cordish Company, a real estate and entertainment operating venture, was looking to bring exciting events and concerts back to downtown Kansas City. In 2007 they developed this vision with the famous Kansas City Power and Light district filling it with unique shopping, delicious dining, and entertainment. Now, weekend experiences include viewings at Alamo Drafthouse and concerts at the KC Live! Block. Cordish continued to revitalize Kansas City’s arts and entertainment scene by forming a partnership with AEG Live and investing $16 million into the historic Midland theater.
As a registered historic building, Cordish was inspired to update the 21st century standard while maintaining the spirit of Kansas City. Larry Hovick, General Manager of the Midland, loves all the well-preserved details of the building. “Some obvious aspects were preserved such as the exterior façade of the building and the color scheme of the interior,” Hovick said. As you enter the theater, there’s vintage warmth and the building exudes both the regality of early 20th century entertainment and the freshness of a venue visited by the most groundbreaking acts.
Restrooms with a Past
“The bathrooms built in the Roaring Era are primarily intact,” Hovick said. “They were given the modern treatment of renewed plumbing and more than a handful of dollars went to making the facilities ADA compliant.” Upon entering the restroom, your eyes immediately go to the striking terrazzo floors. Terrazzo tile is often used as a flooring option and small cracks run through the tile almost like the veins of a weathered body….showing the life of the theater.
The Powder Room
Another characteristic of these colorful commodes is the interior design. You are brought back to the original times of the building as you realize you’re standing in a smoking room.
Before smoking was deemed bad for you, women would sit in smoking rooms that acted as a corridor to the actual bathroom. It also houses the modern wonder known as a “telephone booth.” Even though smoking and secret phone booth conversations have slowly been replaced with quick phone checks and selfies, this unique addition is a rarity in public restrooms – adding a robust historic experience to your night of entertainment.
The Down Low
KC’s rebel roots go deep. As in underground, in the dark deep. Perhaps the worst or best-kept secret (depending on who you ask), is the Midland’s basement affectionately called the “Titanic”.
Located behind and below backstage you will find a corridor; this secret hide-away has been a part of interesting experiences and stories from performers over the years. It also has an underground tunnel system that is now, sadly, out of commission. During prohibition, performers would use these secret tunnels to make their get-a-ways during raids. You make us proud, KC forefathers! The Midland’s long and eventful, rebel history continues to give life to a building that will entertain Kansas Citians for years to come. Check out these wise old bathrooms for yourself, and look out for upcoming events the Midland found on their website at www.midlandkc.com.