Spotlight on The Burford

October 15, 2018 0 By admin

Spotlight on The Burford features stories of the past, personal memories and upcoming events.  If you have a memory that you would like to share, please contact Shannon Martin, Director at (620) 886-1703 or

Spotlight on The Burford: History and Happenings, Article 19

By Shannon Martin, Director of Burford Theatre Arts

During this quiet time at the Burford, we are installing a catering kitchen in the North Classroom.  The kitchen will feature a warming oven, dishwasher, large refrigerator and plenty of prep space.  Caterers who provide food for events at the Burford will be thrilled with the addition.  Thanks to many generous donors, the Pell Foundation and the VJ Wilkins Foundation for funding for the kitchen.  It will be named the Jean Snell Catering Kitchen after Jean who spent hours restoring the Burford and was a great cook.

As the contractor was working in the kitchen he asked me about the five small on the floor in a row.  They are the remains of stools from a soda fountain located in a pharmacy.  You can make out in the floor where the counter and the stools were located in the pharmacy.  At one point, a movie go-er could stop by the pharmacy and get a root beer float or banana split before or after a movie.

Another feature in the North Classroom is a built-in shelf with a pull-down door.  That was also part of the pharmacy.  The prescription side of the pharmacy was located in the next building and the door could close in the evening to separate the soda foundation.

The North Classroom had carpeting in the front half of the building.  Last week, the carpet was pulled up to reveal beautiful terrazzo flooring.  The Burford building has terrazzo flooring in the entryway and is a beautiful feature.  Terrazzo is traced back to mosaics of Egypt and consists of chips of other materials – marble, quartz, granite, or glass.  The materials are mixed with a binding component and then poured on the floor.  When it cures, the floor is ground smooth and covered with a sealant.  The Burford terrazzo floors are very durable and have stood the test of time being installed in 1924.

When we open again, and we will, be sure to stop and look at the beautiful floors and the new catering kitchen.  Until then, be safe, be kind and be hopeful.

Spotlight on The Burford: History and Happenings, Article 18

By Shannon Martin, Director of Burford Theatre Arts

Even though the theatre is closed right now, there is some activity in the north classroom and online. This week we began construction on a new catering kitchen in the Burford and will launch Virtual Burford! online.

For the past year, we have been raising funds and planning to install a catering kitchen in half of the north classroom.  The kitchen is being constructed now, which is actually a great time since nobody else is in the building.  Construction is an essential business and we will be excited to have the kitchen when we open up again.  Although operating funds are tight right now, the money raised to install the kitchen are a separate fund gifted from the VJ Wilkins Foundation, Peel Foundation and some very generous donors.  These funds have to be used to build the kitchen only.

The kitchen will feature a warming oven, dishwasher, large restaurant grade refrigerator and more.  There will be plenty of stainless-steel counters for food preparation.  It will be a great improvement for the many caterers who provide food for events.  There will also be a counter with a demonstration mirror above which opens to the classroom area.  We hope to offer culinary classes in the future.

We hope everyone is being safe and staying at home right now.   Our mission is to provide arts and entertainment to the community.  Thanks to a grant from Humanities Kansas we will be presenting Virtual Burford! starting this Friday at 3:00 p.m.   Virtual Burford! is a series of events including 1) a historical tour of the theatre, 2) live music from Piper Leigh, 3) a poetry and short story contest and more.  Each episode of Virtual Burford! will be played on Fridays at 3:00 p.m.  It will be available on Facebook, Instagram and on our website.  Even though we can’t meet face to face at this time, we hope to engage the community in the arts and humanities

Spotlight on The Burford:  History and Happenings, Article I7

By Shannon Martin, Director of Burford Theatre Arts

For the second time in the Burford’s history the theatre is dark.  A dark theatre is a theatre that is closed.  The first closure was in 2004 when B&B Theatres moved north of town and gave the building to the Arkansas City Area Arts Council.  Over the next 10 years, volunteers and contractors worked to renovate the historic building.  The Burford was technically dark but many were inside working.

On Tuesday of this week, the Governor issued an Executive Order that all gatherings of over 50 people had to cease until May 1st.  So the Burford is dark again.

Yes, technically we are closed but once again many are keeping the Burford running.  Plans are being made for the future.  Phone calls are taken regarding postponed events.  One on one music lessons are still taking place.  And we are renovating the North Classroom into a Catering Kitchen.

As a member of the League of Historic American Theatres, the Burford is following their recommended wording for our marquee.  Be Safe.  Be Kind.  Be Hopeful.  So in this time, enjoy your time at home with your family.  Our Facebook page will have some live streaming of entertainment.  We will share resources including other live streaming events around the world.

As a non profit organization, our operating income comes from ticket sales, rentals, grants, and donations.  Since ticket sales and rentals have halted, consider joining our membership program.  To be a member of the Burford Theatre, check out our website  Members get benefits including VIP events, presales, and free tickets.  We appreciate it.

We are looking forward to May 1.  Be Safe.  Be Kind.  Be Hopeful.

Spotlight on The Burford:  History and Happenings, Article I

By Shannon Martin, Director of Burford Theatre Arts

“By the early 20th century, Arkansas City had gained a reputation as “a good amusement center” and “one of the best theatre going towns in Kansas.”,” according to research collected by Foss Farrar in his paper The Theatres of Arkansas City in 2018.

At the center of this great Theatre legacy is the Burford Theatre.  The Burford Theatre was built in 1924 at a cost of a quarter of a million dollars.    It opened on September 15, 1924, with the film “The Perfect Flapper” staring Colleen Moore.  Admission was 10 cents for children and 25 cents for adults.

Over the years, Ginger Rogers danced on the stage, vaudeville acts included a live elephant, and the Burford had an ice cooling system before air-conditioning was widely used.

Fast forward through several owners, renovations including expansion to three movie screens and eventual closing in 2004, the Burford Theatre is reopened and once again the “King of Theatres” in south central Kansas.  False walls have been removed and beautiful trim work and stain glass ceilings were revealed.  The $7.5 million-dollar renovation took 14 years and is almost completely finished.  Only seats in the balcony remain to be purchased and installed.

But balcony seats won’t keep the Burford from living.  Recently sold out performances at the Burford include a Miss Kansas Kick Off Celebration, the Ark Valley Players play, Piper Leigh’s guest performance at Thirsty Thursday and a Rick Stitzel concert during Arkalalah.  “The concert was magical and felt like it only lasted 15 minutes,” said Jann Ziegler, Burford board member and fellow classmate of Mr. Stitzel.