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University of Texas at Austin

Messmore Kendall:

An Inventory of His Business Records at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Kendall, Messmore, 1872-1959
Title: Messmore Kendall Business Records
Dates: circa 1850-1943 (bulk 1921-1924)
Extent: 15 document boxes, 2 oversize boxes (osb) (8.07 linear feet)
Abstract: The Messmore Kendall Business Records are primarily financial records for Moredall Realty Corporation. The remainder of the collection comprises records of American Releasing Corporation, Capitol Theatre, Columbus Garage Inc., Goldwyn Cosmopolitan Distributing Corporation, Goldwyn Studio, Kendall-Chambers Productions, and Messmore Kendall Studio. A small amount of miscellaneous materials are present.
Call Number: Performing Arts Collection PA-00052
Language: English
Access: Open for research. Researchers must create an online Research Account and agree to the Materials Use Policy before using archival materials.
Use Policies: Ransom Center collections may contain material with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in the collections without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the Ransom Center and The University of Texas at Austin assume no responsibility.
Restrictions on Use: Authorization for publication is given on behalf of the University of Texas as the owner of the collection and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder which must be obtained by the researcher. For more information please see the Ransom Center's Open Access and Use Policies.

Administrative Information

Acquisition: Gift, 1958
Processed by: Joan Sibley, 2001; Helen Adair, 2006; Daniela Lozano, 2017

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Sketch

Messmore Kendall was an attorney, entrepreneur, real estate developer, and theater manager. He was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1872 and studied law at George Washington University, known as Columbian University, in Washington, D.C. In 1897, he moved to New York where he established the law firm of Kendall and Herzog with Paul M. Herzog in 1900. He also built one of New York’s first cinema palaces, the Capitol Theater on Broadway, in 1919, through his realty company, Moredall Realty Company.
Kendall was also involved in other business ventures including serving as Vice President of the publishing company George H. Doran Company, where he met writer W. Somerset Maugham. He went on to produce several Broadway productions written by Maugham between 1927 to 1931. He also produced films including The Song of the Soul (1920), Pardon My French (1921), and Cardigan (1922).


"Messmore Kendall Collection, 1695-1939, Multiple Catalog Numbers." Finding aid at the National Park Service Manhattan Sites Archive, New York, NY. (accessed 19 September 2017)

Scope and Contents

Messmore Kendall managed his Capitol Theater movie palace business operations through his Moredall Realty Corporation. The Messmore Kendall Business Records are primarily financial records for Moredall Realty Corporation (circa 1920-1925). The remainder of the collection comprises records of American Releasing Corporation (1922-1923), Capitol Theatre (1919-1936), Columbus Garage Inc. (1931-1943), Goldwyn Cosmopolitan Distributing Corporation (1920-1924), Goldwyn Studio (circa 1923?), Kendall-Chambers Productions (circa 1920), and Messmore Kendall Studio (1921). A small amount of miscellaneous materials are present, including Kendall’s ID badge for the 1939 New York World’s Fair. The collection is arranged in three series: I. Moredall Realty Corporation, circa 1920-1925; II. Other Firms, circa 1919-1943; and III. Other Papers, circa 1850-1941.

Related Material

Messmore Kendall was a significant collector of American theatre history, and his collections helped to form the basis of the Ransom Center's performing arts holdings. Additional Messmore Kendall materials at the Ransom Center are located in the Messmore Kendall Papers and the Messmore Kendall Collection.
Letters from W. Somerset Maugham to Kendall are located in the W. Somerset Maugham Collection at the Ransom Center.
The National Park Service, Manhattan Sites Archive in New York holds additional Messmore Kendall material.

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