Jesse Hall, centerpiece of the University of Missouri, is named after Richard Henry Jesse, an early president of the university. In 1895, the hall replaced the original administration building, Academic Hall, which was destroyed by fire three years earlier. The columns from that building still stand ni the center of Francis Quadrangle. The high dome, which is visible from many parts of the city, was inspired by the dome on the 1870s Connecticut State Capitol building. In 1954, an addition on the east side allowed the expansion and rennovation of Jesse Auditorium, a venue for a wide variety of live entertainment. In 2015, Jesse was again closed for repairs, but returns as the largest T/F venue for the 2016 fest.
Presented by Landmark Bank
The Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts is Columbia's last and grandest movie palace. It opened in 1928 with Buster Keaton's Steamboat Bill Jr. In 1953, Commonwealth Theatres bought the theater and ran it into the ground in the 1980s before selling it to United Artists, which wanted to gut the theater to turn it into a multiplex. Thankfully, it was saved in 1987 when the Missouri Symphony Society bought it for their new home. In 2001, Ragtag and the symphony society began raising funds for a new projector; on November 15, 2002, the theater showed its first 35mm feature in almost 15 years, a sold-out screening of Sing-along Sound of Music. The theatre saw multi-million-dollar makeover in 2008, and came under the control of the University of Missouri in 2011, securing a long and glorious future.
The Blue Note has been a Columbia institution for concerts, dances and other shows since 1980. The seed was planted in 1975 when Philadelphia native Richard King, on his way to California, made a detour to visit a friend in graduate school at MU. Five years later, after a stint presenting shows at a downtown hotel, King partnered with Phil Costello, a bartender at a place on the Business Loop called Brief Encounters (now Club Vogue). They bought the bar and renamed it The Blue Note, and it became a haven for the best independent rock of its day, including Hüsker Dü's last show, Pixies and the Replacements. Then in the late '80s, while drinking at Booches, King learned that an old vaudeville house, the Varsity Theater, was for sale. By March 1990, after major improvements, King moved The Blue Note there. King has done mighty work renovating the theater—including the restoration of tiered seating in the balcony—as part of the downtown historic district. The Varsity Theatre (Blue Note) was built in 1927 by Tom C. Hall, a prominent businessman who was also involved with several other theaters in town, including the Hall Theatre, which he built on S. Ninth in 1916.
For the fourth straight year, the festival is hosted at Missouri United Methodist Church's 2006 annex, built on the burial grounds of a Wendy’s restaurant. This two-story, stucco-covered building is a prominent feature in the gateway between downtown and the University of Missouri campus. The gorgeous Gothic revival church to its north features Indiana limestone walls with massive pointed arched openings and slender peaked buttresses. It opened in 1929, within a year of the Missouri Theatre's opening across the street.
At the center of the Fine Arts Building housing MU’s departments of theater, music and art is a theater named after the legendary Professor Donovan Rhynsburger. In 1925, the professor became the producing director of The Missouri Workshop Theatre, started by a small group of aspiring student thespians, and which presented 250 productions over the next 35 years, including rooftop plays every summer on top of the education building. Essentially a one-person department during its early years, Rhynsburger played the multiple roles of teacher, director, producer, and scenic, lighting, and costume designer. Professor Rhynsburger founded a one-act playwriting contest, won in 1930 by journalism major Tennessee Williams. In 1960, his dream of an academic program in theatre, housed in a fully equipped facility, was finally realized with the completion the building. Rhynsburger, who played Abe Lincoln in one show, demanded the theatre rows fit his long frame. Over the years, several notable actors have worked on the Rhynsburger stage, including Chris Cooper, Tom Berenger, Cleo King, Melanie Moore and Jon Hamm.
With its 90-foot-tall bell tower featuring a gold cross against a blue mosaic tile panel, the church is a noted landmark in downtown Columbia, just to the south of Ragtag’s “Hittsville” complex. Built in 1966, the church building is the latest incarnation of a congregation with deep roots here -- it is the second oldest church in Columbia, having started at Tenth & Broadway in the 1820s. In the Vietnam era, the church started to host the Chez coffehouse in its basement; the Chez swarmed with pickers and grinners of all kinds, becoming one of Columbia’s biggest alternative havens. The venue continues on an occasional basis to this day. In 2009, the church built a fellowship hall; in 2011, it graciously opened its doors to T/F, which it gives an international theme for the weekend.
Presented by the Missouri Department of Conservation
Originally a salesmen’s hotel, the Tiger and its eponymous sign beckoned weary travelers from the Wabash Railway Station. The rise of the automobile sparked the first changes at the Tiger, including a fully motorized parking structure that could lift a guest’s vehicle into its designated slot. But the interstate system cemented the hotel’s fate, as a string of highway motels opened and downtowns became less popular. After being remodelled into a senior living center, the Tiger changed hands again in 2003. John Ott, Dave Baugher, and Al Germond relit the Tiger Sign for the first time in 30 years and held the building until British businessman Glyn Laverick purchased it in 2011. Laverick converted the Tiger into a luxury boutique hotel with 62 rooms and suites, opened in time for the 2012 festival. Laverick also oversaw the addition of the Velvet Cupcake and the return of another Columbia landmark, Glenn’s Cafe. The ballroom is also credited for being the birthplace of the modern conservation movement, when a group formed on September 10, 1935 developed into the Missouri Department of Conservation. For the fest, True/False renames the ballroom after local journalist and musician Forrest Rose, who passed away in March 2005 and whose graceful prose and soulful community spirit embodied the very best of Columbia.
The Ragtag story begins in 1997 when Paul Sturtz met David Wilson at a show by Mr. Quintron at the now-shuttered Shattered nightclub. The last downtown movie house had gone dark, and so they concocted the Ragtag Film Society. Richard King opened the Blue Note to them Sunday and Wednesday nights, and they showed the first film in 1998 with a couple of "borrowed" 16mm projectors. Cut to three bright entrepreneurs — medievalist Tim Spence, farmer Holly Roberson and baker Ron Rottinghaus — who schemed how to make Ragtag a seven-day-a-week storefront cinema, which opened in 2000 and moved to its current digs in 2008. “Hittsville”, as we like to call it, was built in 1935 and first used as a Coca-Cola bottling factory and then as the Kelly Press printing plant. In 2013, the smaller and cozier auditorium was renamed "The Willy Wilson Theater" after the Scottish-born actor, designer, math teacher – and father of David Wilson. Ragtag is sometimes credited with saving Columbia, but people tend to exaggerate about such things.