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A Moscow Treasure: The Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre

Updated: Apr 1, 2020

The Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre

By: EmilieRae Smith

The Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre (KPAC) in downtown Moscow is home to both live theater, foreign films and Oscar winning movies. We are lucky to have such a theater that offers diverse entertainment experiences. Not only are films and theater a form of entertainment, but it also opens the door to different cultures and ideas.

In 1908, the Crystal Theater Opera House could be found in the spot where today’s Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre now stands. The Opera House operated until Milburn Kenworthy purchased it in 1926 and opened the first public theater in Moscow on January 4th. The original brick structure from 1908 was expanded to enlarge the stage area. The theater housed vaudeville performances, silent films and eventually talking films in 1929.

Milburn Kenworthy and his family spent their whole lives in the entertainment business. They took silent films to a whole new level in the ’20s with live animals walking in the aisles and burning incense to intensify moods.[1] Kenworthy later built the NuArt Theater down the street from the Kenworthy in 1930.

For many years, the Kenworthy was Moscow’s premier movie theater. In the 1970s, however, the theater was converted into a cafe and eventually an apartment.[2]

It wasn’t until the late 1980s when the building was turned back into a theater. Today the KPAC is a non-profit organization that is deeply involved in the Moscow community. People can rent out the space for performances, to show films or even to get married.

In the past, departments of the university have hosted movie nights and festivals, such as the French film festival and the Chinese movie night. The Kenworthy always has a film or play worth seeing.

When I first moved to Moscow, the Kenworthy was (and still is) my favorite place to go for good entertainment. The Kenworthy is a place that maintains its historic feel but offers contemporary and educational entertainment. The Kenworthy Theater website lists upcoming events and showings they have. If you’re ever looking for something to do in the evenings, I recommend checking out the showings at the Kenworthy, and I promise you won’t be disappointed.

If you’d like to see original pictures of the Kenworthy in its early years, visit the Latah County Historical Society and ask to see their photo archives of the Kenworthy. 


[1]    Legendary Locals of Moscow. Latah County Historical Society.

[2]              Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre.


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