The Columbian Theatre
The Columbian Theatre

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The History of The Columbian Theatre in Wamego, Kansas
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. 1917-1927 . 1989
. 1927-1951 . 1994
. Silent Films and Travelling Shows
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. 1898 .

The first event held in the Rogers building was a Grand Ball held on New Year's Eve, December 31, 1895. That grand party started a steady stream of events: meetings, dances, Grand Balls, elegant dinners, banquets, graduations, proms, birthday parties, the very best in traveling theatre, minstrels, vaudeville, lectures, sales, exhibits, silent movies and, finally, talkie motion pictures.

In 1901 the theater underwent a major renovation receiving a new pressed metal ceiling, new paint and chairs, while the 1893 paintings received new frames. In late 1902 the wood burning stoves were replaced by a new steam heat system and electric lights were installed in the main ballroom area. The chairs were painted white and carpets laid. The grand reopening of The Columbian produced the largest audience ever seen in Wamego. They were entertained by "Pickings From Puck," a nationally known humorist.

In 1915 the theatre underwent yet another renovation, adding 450 real opera chairs, maroon drapes and ceiling fans. Silent movies became more common, but the staple entertainment was live performances.

The Columbian's stage was electrically lit from the turn of the century and was one of the first commercial users of electricity in Wamego. The stage had several unique features: it boasted three trap doors in the floor, the dressing rooms and curtain fly were in a 25 ft high structure above the stage and the stage was 36 X 50 feet in size, quite large for its time. One of the highlights of this era was the Midwest premiere of the 1918 silent film "The Unbeliever," a war picture in which Clarence Douglass, a Wamego boy, appeared.

Continue to 1927-1951 >>


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