Napoleon Bonaparte Brown,
Soldier and Businessman

Colonel Napoleon Bonaparte Brown was a soldier, businessman, philanthropist, politician, and resident of Kansas and Missouri in the late 1800s and early 1900s until he died on March 18, 1910.


He is most known as the namesake and builder of the Brown Grand Theatre in Concordia, Kansas, a majestic opera house completed in 1907 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The theatre has been called "the most elegant theater between Kansas City and Denver."

Military career
"Colonel" Brown enlisted in the 101st Illinois Infantry on January 3, 1864 and given the rank of Major. Major Brown served in "B" Company until he resigned on January 17, 1865--the very day the 101st crossed into South Carolina from Georgia under General William Tecumseh Sherman. Cloud county records show that he was paid the pension ($25.00) of a major. After he retired from the military, he "promoted himself" to the rank of Colonel.

Business & Philanthropy
Colonel Brown served in the state legislatures for both Kansas and Missouri and was a prominent banker in Kansas during its early years of development as the owner of N. B. Brown & Co., founded in 1878 with a rumored "suitcase full of money" that he had with him upon his arrival. Colonel Brown and is wife Katherine (Katie) then built Brownstone Hall, a 23-room Victorian-style 5,000 square foot stone mansion built in Concordia in 1883.

In 1905, Colonel Brown commissioned the building of the Brown Grand Theatre and entrusted its completion to his son, Earl Van Dom Brown. The theatre was completed in 1907.

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