A Brief History

1908: Operated as The Crystal Theater, Moscow’s opera house.

1925: Milburn Kenworthy purchases the theater and names it the Kenworthy Theatre.

1926: The public theatre opened on January 4th, 1926. The premiere film was “We Moderns”, a silent film that is now lost.

1927: The theater is used for vaudeville and other dramatic productions. It features a full but shallow stage with proscenium and fly space. By placing a screen in front of the stage and projection booth at the back of the balcony, the theater could also show silent films. To enhance this experience, Milburn Kenworthy purchases a Robert Morton theater pipe organ to accompany the silent films.

1936: Milburn Kenworthy gifts the organ to the University of Idaho. After being restored, the organ is moved to the University of Idaho Auditorium, where it resides to this day.

1928: The original brick structure was enlarged twenty feet to the south.

1949: A new terracotta tile façade is installed. The theater also enlarges the marquee. By now, the Kenworthy is Moscow’s premier movie theater.

1971: Milburn Kenworthy passes on December 2, 1971. After several years of management, Judd Kenworthy inherits the family theaters.

1979-1985: The back stage is converted into a coffee house (Café Libre.) The facility is connected to an adjoining bookstore, BookPeople of Moscow. Movies continue to show in the main auditorium.

1984: The Kenworthy Theatre is leased to theater chain, Carmike Cinemas. Judd Kenworthy officially retires from the movie business.

1987: The back stage is again converted, this time to an office and apartment housing Kenworthy Enterprises.

1999: The Judd Kenworthy family gifts the theater to the Moscow Community Theatre, Inc. on December 31.

2000: The non-profit organization, Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre, Inc, is formed. The organization begins restoring the theater. On November 2, live theater returns to the Kenworthy after a 75-year absence. Moscow Community Theater presents Little Shop of Horrors, complete with the original Broadway puppet, Audrey.

2001: The Kenworthy Theatre is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

2000s: Major renovations include installation of ADA restrooms, marquee renovations and stage expansion.

2012: Renovations include new bathrooms, paint, and sidewalk renovation. Bathrooms retain the original tile from 1949.

2013: Digital projector funds raised and conversion complete.

2014: Inaugural MET Live in HD Season broadcast.

2019: Major interior renovations include new Art Deco seats and carpeting consistent with the original design of the building.

Kenworthy Theater

Circa 1935

The Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre is to be Moscow’s premier historic, downtown, community performing arts venue and cinematic art house dedicated to hosting and providing high quality arts experiences to residents of and visitors to the Palouse Region.


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