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Landers Theatre has been in continuous operation either as a performance venue or movie theater since its construction in 1909. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is the oldest and largest civic theater in Missouri. Today is it owned by a production company called the Springfield Little Theatre. The building is also a striking example of Neoclassical architecture with French baroque influences. It features a facade with red brick, limestone piers, and terra cotta quoins, decorative masks and cartouches, cornices, and parapets. The marquee is not original and was installed in 1921. The Springfield Little Theatre offers a variety of shows and educational programs.


The historic Landers Theatre has been a fixture in Springfield for over a century. Built in 1909, it is now owned by the Springfield Little Theatre, which offers a variety of shows and educational programs.

Building, Daytime, Window, Blue

Kansas City architect Carl Boller designed the theater for builders John and D.J Landers and R.W. Stewart. It opened on September 18, 1909 with a performance of a musical comedy called The Golden Girl. During its early years, the Landers not only offered theatrical and musical performances but other kinds of entertainment as well such as wrestling matches. Well known artists of the time also performed here including John Philip Sousa. Beginning in 1912, the theater began to offer vaudeville acts, tabloids, and movies, which became the main draw in 1919.

From 1940 to 1959, it was leased to Fox-Midwest Theatres. After a short period when it operated as a theatrical venue, it became a movie house again. The Springfield Little Theatre, which was established in 1934, bought it 1970. The building itself has largely remained unaltered aside from a few changes including the construction of a projection booth and the removal of separate access to the second balcony, which was designated for African-American patrons before desegregation.

Lightfoot, B.B. & Tucker, O.H. "Landers Theatre." National Park Service - National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form. August 12, 1977. https://catalog.archives.gov/OpaAPI/media/63818893/content/electronic-records/rg-079/NPS_MO/77000806.pdf.

"Springfield Little Theatre at the Historic Landers Theatre." Visit Missouri. Accessed May 5, 2022. https://www.visitmo.com/things-to-do/springfield-little-theatre-at-the-historic-landers-theatre.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Wikimedia Commons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Landers_Theater_Elevation_311_E_Walnut.JPG