Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Murals at Liberty Hall

When the Millsteins and Oldfather partnership renovated the Opera House in the 1980s they commissioned several artists and craftsman to decorate the interior.

Several artists painted the interior murals of what was renamed Liberty Hall.

Dennis Helms did most of the work visible in the theater.

The saturn imagery was designed by Tamara Brown. It appears on the ceilings and in the carpet.

It's difficult to know which paintings Dalton did. Tommee writes:
 I remember going in there while all that work was being done.  I don’t know what all Dalton did in there, but yes, he did work on the ceiling in the theater. The day I was in there there was a big scaffold set up and Dalton was up there working.
Sort of like Michaelangelo. Isn't that area called the proscenium arch?

Maybe the starry nebulae in the balcony...

and right over the stage...

The doorway to the Little Theater

The clouds in the banquet room?
Dalton and Bryan did the interior of a Mexican restaurant on Massachusetts in the '80s, but it didn't last long and the murals were painted over.

See a story about Liberty Hall and a short slide show of the interior at the Kansan website:

Newspapers in the 1920s on the sidewalk

and an article on the building's history

See Andy Curry's website with a history of the bands he's played in including the Billy Spears Band and this 1976 photo.

A building history (not fact checked) The current building is on the site a building remodeled in 1882 by J. D. Bowersock as the Bowersock Opera House. He'd built the dam and owned the powerhouse by the river---Rebuilt in 1911 after a fire and reopened as the Bowersock Opera House in 1912. In the 1930-50s it was the Jayhawker Theater.

 In the 1960s the basement was the Catacombs, an atmospheric bar. In 1965 the theater opened as the Red Dog Inn, and for awhile it was a disco called Bugsy's. When the Millsteins and Charlie Oldfather bought it it had been abandoned for awhile. Susan said there was a year-old cake on the piano.


  1. Nice post! I recently posted a couple of portraits by Dennis Helm (including one of me as a youth) on my blog and have been searching for other work by Dennis. I remember seeing Asleep At the Wheel at Liberty Hall when it was named the Red Dog in the 70's. The murals look fantastic! Thanks!

  2. Who painted the car? It's really beautiful.