Esquire Theater

For years people have entered Cape Girardeau's downtown to see a historic, though crumbling, Esquire Theater. But this week we learned that the theater, which hasn't shown a movie since the mid-80s, has been purchased and will be renovated.

John Buckner, owner of the Broadway Esquire Entertainment Group, that purchased the theater, said that a $2.4 million plan will turn the 67-year-old building into a 500-seat art-house theater that will show independent movies and be a venue for student theater and cabaret.

Buckner, who intends to use state and federal tax credits in this project, hopes the renovated theater will open Jan. 21, 2013. The date is significant, marking the 66th anniversary of the theater's first opening night.

A special amenity for those who visit the theater -- which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005 -- will be the option to purchase drinks and food from a wait staff.

This is not the first endeavor that Buckner, a Farmington, Mo., native, has taken on in Cape Girardeau. He is also the director of sales at Eustis Studios, which has a gallery on Independence Street.

At the news conference, Buckner noted the importance and historic nature of this project.

"This is a significant part of Cape Girardeau's history, and I intend to fully respect the historical integrity throughout this project," Buckner said.

We wish Bucker all the best in his efforts to renovate the theater, while maintaining its unique and historic character.