Landers Theatre

Batesville, AR
Built 1906

The Gem Opera House opened in 1906 in a three-story structure on Batesville's Main Street. By the early 1920s was used primarily for movies and he theatre was the first in the area to be outfitted for sound. Will Rogers appeared live on its stage in 1931. The theatre was renamed for the Landers family that ran the facility until it ceased regular operation in the 1990s. (reference)

I stumbled across this facility in the mid 1990s while staying overnight in the city en route to Missouri. At the time it was being used for live music although when I returned a few years later, there was a condemnation sign posted in the front window. When I visited in September, 2006, the roof of the auditorium had apparently collapsed and the front of the building was being used by Brad's Vacuums. The building was purchased by Fellowship Bible Church in 2008 when the congregation outgrew its space in the Citizen's Bank annex, and the first service in the restored theatre was held on June 20, 2010.

That's the true harbinger of spring, not crocuses or swallows returning to Capistrano, but the sound of a bat on a ball. (Bill Veeck)