Brown Grand Theater,

The Brown Grand Theatre is a community-based historical Theatre dedicated to enhancing cultural life in North Central Kansas in the United States. The theatre is a majestic opera house located in Concordia, Kansas and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The theatre has been called "the most elegant theater between Kansas City and Denver."


November of 1905, Concordia resident Colonel Napoleon Bonaparte Brown announced to the townspeople his plans to build a fully outfitted opera house for Concordia. Renowned Kansas City theatre architect Carl Boller was hired to prepare the design drawings and the blueprints.

The construction of the theatre was under the direction of Brown's son, Earl Van Dom Brown. Young Earl researched and gathered ideas by touring more than thirty opera houses in Kansas and Missouri. Native Concordian W.T. Short (already known for his work on the Brown family home Brownstone Hall and other buildings in the area) was hired as the construction supervisor. Ground breaking ceremonies took place on April 3, 1906.

At its completion, The Brown Grand Theatre stood sixty-feet high and spanned one-hundred- twenty feet in length. Renaissance in style and overall design, the $40,000 structure became a priceless jewel amid rare aesthetic fiches in a small town in turn of the century mid-America.

The formal opening of the Brown Grand Theatre took place September 17, 1907 with the production The Vanderbilt Cup (a comedy set against the backdrop of the auto racing trophy Vanderbilt Cup. In the words of Carl "Punch" Rogers who was in attendance on opening night, "The firemen who were at the doors were in full uniform and the ushers at the door wore white gloves. I'll tell you, that night society sort of quivered. It was all beautiful . . . yes it was."

During the next four years, the theater prospered until 1910, when N.B. Brown died. Four months later, his popular son Earl died. According to theater lore, Earl's ghost haunts the theater, especially during the "opening" season. The theatre operated under various management until 1925 when it was sold to the Concordia Amusement Company.

From 1925 to 1974, the Brown Grand was converted to show silent pictures and later talking pictures. The theatre was remodoled several times (including air conditioning and concessions) to bring the theatre more in line with the times.

The last movie to be shown at the Brown Grand was the world premiere of "The Devil and LeRoy Bassett" which was written and directed by Robert E. Pearson, a native of Concordia. Soon after, the theatre underwent extensive restoration led by grassroots community efforts.

Restoration was completed in 1980--returned to its original 1907 splendor, the 650 seat Brown Grand Theatre now serves as a tourist attraction and performing arts / community center for Concordia and North Central Kansas.

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