Kansas City, MO

In January 2022, the El Torreon in Kansas City became a part of the National Register of Historic Places

CJ Coombs

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Exterior of El Torreon Ballroom.Image via KCUrbanCore via Twitter.

From dancing to skating to top concert performers, this historic venue lives.

The old El Torreon Ballroom is now part of the National Register of Historic Places as of January 3, 2022. This building located at 3101 Gillham Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri is definitely historic.

The El Torreon Ballroom opened in 1927 and not too far off, it will be 100 years old. Jazz performers such as Cab Calloway and Count Basie added style to its ballroom during the jazz era on the upper ballroom floor. 

Large events took place on the lower floor. This went on during the 1920s and 1930s.

The ballroom hosted rock ‘n roll in the 1950s. It also supported a roller skating rink for years. 

From 1971 to 1974, it was the Cowtown Ballroom. It’s a wow moment to go through the list of performers who performed there. Click here to see that list. Rory Gallagher with his “Livin’ Like a Trucker” was there in 1974.

The building was affectionately known as the Cowtown Ballroom and hosted bands like Van Morrison, Frank Zappa, and Alice Cooper.  It was also home to a vintage market and gave space to local artists and musicians. (Source.)

When the Cowtown Ballroom closed, the large and heavy mirror ball that used to hang at El Torreon went to the Kansas City Museum. In December 2021, the museum brought the mirror ball back to life after years of renovation were taking place at the museum.

In The Kansas City Museum Has Reopened After A Restoration Process That Took Over A Decade — And It’s Nearly Unrecognizable In Its New Form, writer Mary Hen shares the following intriguing detail about the mirror ball:

But what is not visible on display is the ball’s motor, which has a serial number dating it back to 1918. (Source.)

The image below from about 1947 shows the old mirror ball.

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The Cowtown Ballroom interior with the mirror ball center top, ca. 1947.M. Lawrence Gallagher, Cowtown Ballroom Friends Facebook page.

Today, El Torreon is a historic venue for your event including weddings. In January 2022, it was reported in kansascitymag.com that the current owner, Bridgeport Church, which had already been hosting special events, is planning a major project to renovate and restore the ballroom upstairs back to a music venue. I found it very interesting to learn that prohibition tunnels were discovered in the basement.

After Bridgeport Church acquired the building, a portion of the roof collapsed due to a storm. A staircase was crushed. It’s hoped that the upstairs ballroom will reopen by 2024 for live music. Until then, it provides a classy historic venue for your event.

The below video provides some good history on the mirror ball that’s now on display at the Kansas City Museum. Also at the museum are Cowtown Ballroom concert posters on the third floor.

Thanks for reading!

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Multi-genre writer and indie author with a BA in Eng Journalism & Creative Writing. My working career has been in law firms. Thinker, giver, and lover of life and retired early to be a writer. Born into Air Force service life, life has taken me to Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Missouri. I love family, art, reading, history, true crime, travel, and research.

Kansas City, MO
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