Dodge City holds a special place in the old west’s history of arts and entertainment and few places better embody this than Dodge Theater, a theater founded in downtown Dodge City in 1929.
This picture house/ live theater boasted the newest films from Hollywood. When the film “Dodge City” was released in 1939, the world premiere took place in Dodge City itself. More than 150,000 people gathered to see the likes of Humphrey Bogart, Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland.
Now, the theater sits in disuse. In over 10 years no business has occupied the space.
Mark Vierthaler and the Dodge Theater Foundation, however, are on a mission to change all of that.
At a presentation on Monday, Sept. 16, to the Rotary Club of Dodge City, Vierthaler lined out the Foundation’s plans to purchase and restore the Dodge Theater.
“You can sit there and you can complain about, ‘How come nobody does anything to save downtown or save these historic buildings ?’” Vierthaler said. “And I figured we should stop complaining and do something ourselves.”
Vierthaler estimates that it will cost $3 million to restore the building, including the offices that are attached to the theater. New electrics, plumbing and climate control are needed.
“It’s a massive undertaking to get it into a shape where it can be used on a regular basis again,” Vierthaler said.
According to Vierthaler, the Foundation is seeking funds from locals and local businesses. He says they are seeking grants, but most grants are for buildings already owned.
Vierthaler cites Dodge City’s lack of a medium-sized venue as one reason for supporting the renovation of the theater building. He also says it could be a way to foster better cultural understanding between the different races in the community. Spanish language events would take place and Spanish movies would be shown. He also says it would increase the number of people coming downtown.
“This is only going to benefit us, and we can only stand to all benefit from it by doing this,” he said.
Vierthaler says that what the Foundation needs most right now is financial support. Those interested in helping can call 620-390-9535, visit on Facebook at www.facebook.com/savethedodgetheater or email firstname.lastname@example.org.