January 20, 2011

Liberty Hall - Lawrence, KS

If you want to watch a movie in Kansas, you could go to multiplex. It will have 20 screens, plenty of movies, overpriced tickets and concession stands, and the same experience you could get at home. Where is the fun in that? I've written before about my love of classic movie theaters, like the Rio Theater in Overland Park. I'm lucky to have another classic movie theater not too far from where I live at Liberty Hall in Lawrence.

They have only two screens - a little theater and a big theater. But what they lack in diversity they make up for in the quality of films. Sure, I could go see the latest romantic comedy with insipid dialogue at a corporate multiplex. Or I could go to Liberty Hall and see something good. Recently, I went there to see "Black Swan" in the big theater while "Inside Job" was playing the small theater. And while the concession stands have your typical staples like popcorn, they also serve alcohol. You can get a glass of wine or a draw of Free State beer to sip while you enjoy your film. (The beer doesn't have far to travel because the Free State Brewing Company is located just next door to the theater.)

If you're seeing a film in the big theater, you can go up the stairs to the balcony, which has small and closely packed theater seats. Or you could stay downstairs in the open hall. There, you can sit anywhere you like among the free standing chairs with tables set up (which is good if you need somewhere to rest your beer). The reason there is so much open space in the downstairs of the main theater is that the Liberty Hall is also a venue for concerts and local events.

In addition to being one of the cultural centers of Lawrence, Liberty Hall is also a very historical location. From 1855 to 1856, an abolitionist newspaper called "The Herald of Freedom" was published there. But then something happened that seems to have happened at one time or another to most buildings in Lawrence - it burned down. (Fun Fact: it was actually burned down by the Sheriff of Lawrence.) In 1882, the Bowersock House was built in the same spot. It was intended to be an opera house but also served as the site for public assemblies and city meetings. Until it burned down in 1911. But the Lawrence community has never been discouraged by a little fire and set about rebuilding once again. In 1912, the current Liberty Hall was built. It was renovated in 1980 but continues to serve as a cultural center for Lawrence - the place to go for concerts, movies, plays, operas, and even movie rentals.

For over 100 years, Liberty Hall has been the site for culture in Lawrence. It has survived the times and the flames, continuing to offer the people of Lawrence great films, great concerts, and a great place to go.

Total Time Traveled: 20 minutes
Total Distance Traveled: 6 miles
Soundtrack: "Super Taranta!" Gogol Bordello


1 comment:

  1. I love Liberty Hall. I've been there for countless concerts. As for movies I saw Art School Confidential, Religulous, and a few others. I love that it is never packed during the day but a few hours later can be sold out for a concert. I just enjoy being inside that place.