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History of The Midland Theater

Built in 1928 from plans by architect Clare A. Henderson of Coffeyville, the Midland Theater was the idea of John Tackett, its original proprietor, and Glen W. Dickinson of Lawrence, Kansas, who founded the Dickinson Theaters in 1920. On July 10, 1926, the Coffeyville Journal reported that Dickinson had leased the earlier Tackett Theater at 8th and Maple Streets as well as the “new theater building, which will be erected on the Tackett lots, just west of the Hotel Dale.” However, two years later, when the theater opened in September of 1928, the Coffeyville Journal did not mention Dickinson in its description of the opening of the New Tackett Theater.

John Tackett was a well-known Coffeyville resident. Born in Pittsville, Missouri on August 31, 1874, Tackett came to Coffeyville in 1890 with his mother and three siblings. The year they arrived, Tackett and his mother opened a photography studio. Tackett gained national notoriety in 1892 when he photographed the Dalton Gang raid in Coffeyville. He later collaborated with Emmett Dalton and wrote, filmed, produced, and distributed a movie about the famous raid that starred Dalton. Involved in the arts, he played in the Tackett Orchestra (a band of three performers) and taught dance classes. Among his students was a young Will Rogers.

Less than a year after it opened, the Fox Corporation operated the theater and changed its name from the New Tackett Theater to the Midland Theater. Manager Glen Carroll installed a new twenty four foot “flasher sign” and flashing lights around the marquee, as well as new equipment to
accommodate talking pictures technology.

The Fox Corporation owned and operated three theaters in Coffeyville (the Midland Theater, the old Tackett Theater, and the Ismo Theater) until 1953 when the United States Supreme Court banned film company monopolies. Fox sold the Tackett Theater and a short time later closed the Ismo Theater due to declining attendance. The Fox Corporation, which was later acquired by the National General Theater Corporation, ran the Midland Theater until 1960 when the company sold the theater to Talmadge (“Tal”) and Pearl Richardson.

When the Richardsons bought the Midland Theater, the theater’s prior owners had already sold the organ; filled the orchestra pit with concrete; removed the chandeliers; converted the ballroom into offices and a storeroom; eliminated the box seats; reduced seating capacity; and installed a concession stand. However, the ticket booth, lobby, auditorium, and balcony retained their original configuration and the majority of their original finishes. After Tal Richardson died in 1976, Pearl continued operating the theater until her death in 1998. During this time, she worked to restore the theater to its original condition. After Pearl’s death, the City of Coffeyville purchased the Midland Theater. The City planned to raise money for the theater’s restoration as a venue to host live performances and movies until conveying the Midland Theater to the newly formed Midland Theater Foundation, Inc. on December 14th, 2004. 

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