The Augusta Historical Theatre, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is a perfect example of the architectural elegance and grandeur of movie palaces in the 1920s and 1930s during the height of grand theatre building in the United States. The Augusta Theater opened June 19, 1935. David and Aline Bisagno spared no expense in giving Augusta, Kansas, a movie palace that would become the “architectural centerpiece of the community.”
Chicago architect, L.P. Larsen was chosen by Bisagno for his innovative stadium auditorium design and emphasis on neon lighting. Apparently, the Augusta Theatre was the first theatre in the nation to be lit entirely by neon. It’s brightly lit neon marquee with sunburst designs and a rainbow of flickering colors beckoned the citizens of Augusta to many evening performances. The facade of the theatre was faced with individual tiles of Carrara structural glass. This dazzling design of green and silver-etched black glass gave the theatre “a badge of distinction” and the entire downtown a dramatic focus.
The elaborate Art Deco interior, including ornamental plaster, canvas murals, and stenciled ceiling tiles were all designed by Hans Van Voss from Holland. WAlls are laced throughout with ornamental plaster designs in black, silver, salmon, and green. This color scheme is consistent throughout the theatre, giving an overall unification to the design. No details were overlooked as doors, grill work, and fixtures were all designed to give an Egyptian feeling to the theatre.
In 1989, the Augusta Arts Council purchased the theatre from the Bisagno Family and is committed to seeing that it is preserved as a movie and live theatre facility, so that it may continue to be a vital part of the community and an important landmark of American Architecture.