During the 1930's, an active group of Thespians had been staging plays at Joplin High School, the Paramount Theatre, the Scottish Rite Temple and anywhere else they could find a stage. In 1939 this group incorporated into Joplin Little Theatre and today is known as the longest continuously running community theatre west of the Mississippi.
The Royal Heights Playhouse, located at 2201 N. Florida, was the first home for JLT. A former movie house, it had neither seats nor heating. Patrons brought their own folding chairs. In 1945, JLT found a new home at the corner of 12th and Main at the Market Square. The new theatre was on the 2nd floor, above the city market and a saloon.