The first theater in Kimball was the American Theatre. It first opened to the public Thursday night, March 7, 1918. In April, Noah G. Brewer was listed as proprietor. The theater was billed as “Kimball’s Modern Play House”. The people of Kimball were proud of the new theater and their appreciation was shown by the excellent business the management received. The first features were shown on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday only. In December 1918, admission was 35 cents with an additional 20-cent war tax.
Although no advertisement was published listing the first picture shown in the theater, the feature showing the following week was “The Learning of Jim Benton” – six-part triangle. It was two reels of comedy. The advertisement did list a “special program Sunday evening”.
While not as large as theaters in larger cities, the building, the finishing, painting, and service was the very best. Andy Borgeson, a local painter, did the paintings. One was a reproduction of the Deschutes Falls in Deschutes River near Redmond, Ore., where W.S. Rodman, owner of the theater, lived before coming to Kimball. Another was of Fern Lake in Estes Park. There were a total of eight scenes in all. The American Theatre was located at 123 South Chestnut. Monograms & More was located here in 2001 and now the current home of Java Blend.
After returning from World War I, Shirl Vogler bought a half interest in the American Theatre. Norman Long bought the other half interest. Norman was married to Shirl’s sister, Ruth. Shirl and Norman ran the American Theatre until May of 1923, at which time they sold the business to Marie Goodhand. Miss Goodhand had moved from Ord, Nebraska where she was owner and manager of the Gem Theatre. Shirl leased the Fraternal Hall and moved his equipment into that building. This theater would become known as the “Community Theatre”. The first movie at the Community Theatre was “Moron of the Lady Letty” starring Dorothy Dalton and Rudolph Valentino. On the 19th of February, 1924 S.D. Vogler sold the Community Theatre to Miss Goodhand. “Kimball was a very good town for one theater, but it cannot support two. One paying business was better for the town than half dozen with empty seats or loafing clerks.”
The Lumco Theatre opened to the public May 6, 1927. Mr. Lumpkin had made a trip to Denver where he placed an order for 300 leather upholstered theatre chairs and two Powers picture machines. He stated that he hoped to make the new theater not only a popular meeting place for the young people of the vicinity, but a credit to the city.
Shows were 10 cents and 30 cents. A one cent candy special was offered on the 6th and 7th of May. “Buy one pound box Fancy Chocolates for $1.25 and get a pound of Chocolate Cherries or Fruits and Nuts for one cent.” The first movie played at the Lumco Theatre was “Love in Sunya” starring Gloria Swanson. Mrs. M.B. Darling managed the theater for Mr. Lumpkin. “Special Pictures and Music” was by Davis and his Black Derbies. The Lumco Theatre was located in the Lee building which was the north half of Duckwalls, or what is currently The Décor Store. George Bell Lumpkin, owner of the theater, had a modern delicatessen shop in the lobby.
There was also an up-to-date large Revelation iceless soda fountain and several booths for a soft drink parlor. High grade candies and other things in that line were also sold.
On Dec. 27, 1928, the Lumco Theatre advertisement read “Don’t forget the TALKING SOUND and SYNCHRONIZED PICTURES coming here – the first one January 7, 8, 9. When we say – ‘See and Hear’– our pictures are Talking Pictures, not just records”.
L. Schrader leased the Lumco Theatre in July of 1929. It was billed as the New Lumco Theatre “The Coolest Place in Town”. In December, he turned possession back to George Lumpkins.
Miss Marie Goodhand bought the Lumco Theatre and took possession Jan. 1, 1930. The Fox movietone was taken out and silent movies were to be shown there for a time. In the January 23rd issue, it stated, “Lumco Theatre closed until better weather”. It appears the theater never opened again.
Admission to the theaters varied from 25 cents to 50 cents for adults in the early years. Children’s admissions were usually 10 cents. Special movie prices were sometimes billed “as listed”.
On July, 21, 1929, the first Sunday opening, both Kimball theaters played to a capacity crowd. There were cars from Potter, Pine Bluffs, Banner County and Colorado. The fact that there was Sunday all around Kimball was a strong argument in favor of Sunday shows. The theaters open on Sunday were Bushnell and Pine Bluffs to the west, Dix, Potter, and Sidney to the east, Scottsbluff to the north and Sterling to the south. (The Dix Theater at one time was planks borrowed from the lumber company, set up in the street and the movie showed on a screen.)
The mayor and the city council didn’t take part in the Sunday opening. The theater managers said they would continue to stay open unless legal action was taken and the matter was referred to a special election. In December 1929, the city council did call for a special election requesting an ordinance to allow movies to be shown on Sunday. This election was to be held Jan. 21, 1930. Voters rejected the ordinance 314 to 147. Lower voter turnout due to “zero weather makes light vote”.
On December 1, 1945, Marie Goodhand purchased the lots where the theater now stands. This was to be the future home of the Goodhand Theatre. The American Theatre closed and the Goodhand Theatre opened on the 6th of May 1954. It was a beginning of a new era. The first movie played at the new theater was “Money from Home” starring Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. The Goodhand would seat 418 people, nearly a hundred more than the old American Theatre.
Other owners of the Goodhand Theatre have been Vergil and Mable E. Stahley (1965-1971), David L. Cory (1972-1984), Mary Ann Wynne, James J. and Sharon L. Huff, Wally and Susan G. Winstrom, John Phillips - Popkorn Theaters, Inc., Terry and Amy Sorensen(2000-2010), the city of Kimball and FKI (2010-2016) and currently the Friends of the Goodhand.