The Gillioz Theatre was built by M. E. Gillioz of Monett, Missouri. Mr. Gillioz was in the business of building bridges, and the theater was built with steel and concrete. Wood was only used for handrails, doors, and doorframes. The original cost of the building was $300,000. Renovation costs totaled approximately $1.9 million.
The theater opened on October 11, 1926, in Springfield, Missouri. Gillioz managed to secure a 100-year lease on one 16-foot (4.9 m) wide piece of property which bordered on U.S. Route 66, so that the theater could garner patrons who traveled on that historic highway. After many prosperous years, and many not-so-prosperous years, the "Gillioz, Theatre Beautiful" finally offered its last show in the summer of 1980, an opera.
The theater was originally a transition theater, with a pipe organ for silent movies and a stage for live performances, such as vaudeville acts. A sound system was installed in 1928 with the advent of talkies.
The Gillioz is mainly a concert venue. The Gillioz host a variety of entertainment such as Death Cab For Cutie, Switchfoot, Blue October, Gabriel Iglesias and more. Capacity for general admission is 1300 and for reserved seating there is 1015.
The Gillioz hosted the premieres of three movies:
- 1938 January 14: “Swing Your Lady” with Humphrey Bogart and Penny Singleton
- 1952 June 6: “The Winning Team" with Ronald Reagan
- 1952 July 4: “She’s Working Her Way Through College,” also starring Ronald Reagan
The Gillioz is now operated by the Springfield Landmarks Preservation Trust. Restoration began in 1990, and was completed in 2006. The lobby and auditorium were restored to the original 1926 appearance. It is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Eighty years after first opening its doors, the Gillioz had a grand reopening in October 2006 known as Encore 2006.
The Gillioz Theatre and the Jim D. Morris Building together are known as the Ronald and Nancy Reagan Center. The Gillioz Theatre was chosen due to Ronald Reagan’s theatrical contributions.
- Official Gillioz Theatre Website
- News-Leader Ozarks Entertainment Published Sunday, April 30, 2006
- National Register of Historic Places