Norton Theater: Norton, KS
In 1948, Norton Kansas reopened its movie theater with a mayoral speech and brass band. Constructed in 1906, the building was redesigned in the Streamline Moderne style in 1947. Located across from the Norton County Courthouse, the building had served various civic functions, including as a fraternal hall and public library. The modern cinema signified the town’s transition from a rail hub to a stop on the coast-to-coast Rock Island Highway, a process that began with the construction of US Highway 36 in the 1920s.
Norton Theater’s structural glass walls, aluminum siding, and stucco cladding are indicative of the town’s postwar growth, characteristics which make the building a contributing structure to the Norton Downtown Historic District. The 40s and 50s saw a boom of modern architecture in the small farming town, much of it serving auto travelers. Advancements in agricultural technology brought wealth to Norton County and a proportional growth of the county seat against the rural population.
The building was purchased in 1992 by the Norton Theater Association, a group of local citizens who raised money for the building’s preservation. The movie theater reopened the following year, and screens both new releases and classic movies, as well as special events.