Movie Theaters

The Olde Un Theatre

The Olde Un Theatres is one of the 28 movie theaters included in the book, “Historic Movie Theaters of Columbia, Missouri.”

It’s also one of four remaining movie theaters in Columbia, earning it a free copy of the book.

Author Dianna Borsi O’Brien, Olde Un owner Debbie Simon, assistant manager Richard Simpson, 2021.

Some folks said they were surprised I included the Olde Un in the book, but movie theaters are no strangers to controversy.

When the first Nickelodeons opened in 1904-1905, people were concerned about men and women being together in the dark. How have times changed!

Then there was the first unsuccessful attempt at Sunday movies in July of 1925 by Rex Barrett when he owned the Cozy Theatre. Pastors protested and Sunday movies wouldn’t become part of Columbia’s culture until 1929 when the owners of the three movie palaces, the Missouri, Hall and Varsity theaters, banded together and launched Sunday movies again. This time they were a hit and the smattering of protests by pastors was ignored — by the movie theater owners and movie-goers.

I’m sure you recall times our culture has questioned movie content or movie theater policies — remember at one-time movie theaters were segregated!

So I’m grateful times have changed and including the Olde Un made sense to me. As Debbie Simon puts it in the book, “People like a hint of naughty.”

The book, Historic Movie Theaters of Columbia, is for sale at the Boone County History & Culture Center off Grindstone Parkway, Skylark Bookshop downtown and via this website from the author.

Historic Movie Theaters of Columbia
Historic Movie Theaters of Columbia

MU Football Hits the Silver Screen in 1913

If you like to sit back and watch MU football on a screen, you are carrying on a tradition from at least 1913. The first “moving pictures” debuted in Columbia in 1897 and in 1913 movie theaters started advertising football films.

By then, several movie theaters had opened in Columbia. The Airdome had started as a canvas tent on Broadway in 1902. By 1913 it was at Tenth and Walnut, had a roof and walls and a new name, the Hippodrome.

The Airdome, which burned in 1919. Source: 1910 book Columbia, the Coming City of Central Missouri.
The Airdome burned in 1919. Source: The Coming City of Central Missouri, c1910.

People had become accustomed to movies and theaters were looking for new gimmicks to keep moviegoers coming. The Airdome had already switched out its benches for seats and on Dec. 11, 1913, it advertised footage of the MU football game in the University Missourian.

Tickets were still a nickel for movies but the MU-Kansas commanded a 25-cent price — $7.17 in 2022 prices.

A 1913 ad to watch the MU-KS game at the Hippodrome theater.

The history of the Airdome from its opening to its change to a skating rink and the fire that destroyed it in 1919 is covered along with all 28 of Columbia’s movie theaters in the book Historic Movie Theaters of Columbia, Missouri. The book is on sale on this website, at the Boone County History & Culture Center and Skylark Bookstore on Ninth St.