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 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.