President Shaw
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Ad for Eblon Theater grand opening courtesy Chuck Haddix

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Eblon Theater

Located at 1822 Vine, the Eblon Theater opened on November 4, 1923. The only theater in the area owned and operated by African Americans, the Eblon sported a terra cotta facade and Spanish doors. Velour drapes accented the spacious interior which could accommodate 1,000 patrons. The Eblon featured first run films accompanied by an orchestra directed by ragtime composer James Scott. In 1928, the management replaced the orchestra with a massive pipe organ. Young Bill Basie, newly arrived in Kansas City, played the organ at the Eblon. In 1933, the Eblon was converted to the Cherry Blossom Club, a swank nightclub where Basie first became a bandleader.

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