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Monett opens ‘Little Gillioz Theatre’ exhibit

Published: Jul. 3, 2021 at 9:16 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 3, 2021 at 11:32 PM CDT
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MONETT, Mo. (KY3) - The Gillioz Theatre is a Springfield staple, but did you know that there was a Gillioz Theatre in Monett as well?

The Monett Historical Society recently opened the Little Gillioz Theatre to pay tribute to the event venue that stood on Broadway from 1931 until its demolition in 1987.

The new exhibit, located upstairs in the Monett History Museum, brought back memories for many locals.

“I think one of my favorite memories was M.E. Gillioz would be out at the theatre, and when the show was over, he’d hand everyone a quarter. Right down the road was modern variety, and we’d go get chocolate covered peanuts. For us as kids growing up, to get a quarter meant a lot, we had a lot of money,” said Monett resident Donna Backett

Mark Henderson is the mastermind behind the exhibit and worked at the Gillioz when he was in high school.

“My earliest memory of the original was probably being taken to see Mary Poppins. I can remember standing in line out of the front with my mother,” said Henderson.

He wasn’t the first person in his family to be employed at the Gillioz. His mother Betty worked at the theatre in the 1950′s and met her husband Benny Ray Henderson in the lobby

“That’s where everybody went. One night this boy came in, and he was just gorgeous. He was blonde, and he looked all polished and shiny. Just really gorgeous, and I just fell head over heels.”

Betty and Benny Ray Henderson were married for 60 years. This summer, their granddaughter will have her wedding at the Gillioz Theatre in Springfield.

There are a lot of details that are reminiscent of the original theatre, including the emblem on the end of each seat. The swinging doors and the cherub above them were part of the original building. The stone floor is similar to the lobby floor as well as the concession stand signs.

When the venue was demolished in 1987, many locals were pretty upset. The historical society hopes that this exhibit will help heal past wounds.

“I think Mr. Gillioz would be pleased with it, I really do.”

A bank now stands where the original Gillioz Theatre was located. Due to licensing laws, trademarked motion pictures cannot be shown at the exhibit, but home movies and small concerts are welcome.

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