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Gem Theater

Image of Gem Theater

TYPE: Multi-Cultural Heritage
ADDRESS: 1615 E 18th St. Kansas City, MO 64108-
PHONE: 816-474-8463
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Average Rating

5 out of 5 stars (2 Reviews)

Originally named the Star Theater, the Gem was built in 1912 by the Shriner and Powellson Amusement Company as a silent movie palace serving Kansas City’s African American population. It was renamed the Gem in 1913, and by the time motion pictures could talk in 1929, it had become an established fixture on 18th Street.

Unfortunately, its years as a movie theatre ended in 1960 and by the 1980s, it had faded into a shadow of its former glory. However, when Mayor Richard Berkley and then City Councilman Emanuel Cleaver spearheaded the revitalization of 18th & Vine in the 1980s, the Gem Theater became a centerpiece of the district’s renovation efforts. As a result of the vision and perseverance of Kansas City’s civic leaders, the Gem was restored into a beautiful, state-of-the art performance venue. It stands today as one of the crown jewels of the 18th & Vine corridor.

Behind the restored 1912 façade is a modern 500-seat performing arts center, complete with state-of-the-art technology and equipment. In addition to our annual "Jammin' at the Gem" jazz masters' concert series, the theater hosts many community events and theatre productions. Space is also available for meetings, workshops and seminars.


Who Really Spearheaded the Gem's Renovation


5 out of 5 stars

Pat J. - Kansas City, MO

I spearheaded the renovation of the Gem Theater. My name is Pat Jordan. The Gem Theater opened in 1997 after eight years of planning, design and construction. It opened to rave reviews along with the then Kansas City Jazz Museum and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. All three were built with city bond funds under then-Mayor Emanuel Cleaver and his City Council. I now head up the Gem Cultural and Educational Center, an arts not-for-profit dedicated to supporting and presenting local visual and performing artists with offices located at 21st & Vine, 2 blocks south of the 18th & Vine Historic Jazz District. Thank you. Pat Jordan 816.645.1052.

Gem Theater


5 out of 5 stars

Pat J. - Kansas City, MO

I spearheaded the renovation of the Gem Theater. My name is Pat Jordan. It is true that the Gem was renovated along with the (then) Kansas City Jazz Museum and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and opened along with them in 1997. The efforts were achieved during the time Mayor Emanuel Cleaver was Mayor of Kansas City. Mayor Cleaver and the then-City Council passed City bond funds to cover many of the costs associated with the development effort. Please revise your copy to reflect the above. I continue to run what is called the Gem Cultural and Educational Center an arts not-for-profit oganization now located at 21st & Vine, two blocks south of 18th & Vine........Pat Jordan 816.645.1052.

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