The Columbian Theatre
The Columbian Theatre


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History of the Columbian Theater
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1893-1917
. 1917-1927 . 1989
. 1927-1951 . 1994
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. Movie House
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. 1920 .

The next major renovation was in November 1929. This construction removed most of the 1915 renovation, added fixed seating, rug runners, a huge speaker for sound, a large screen and, believe it or not, air conditioning, water cooled air pulled up from the basement by fans. A concrete block projection booth was added and a stair-stepped balcony improved visibility of the screen from the back of the flat floored auditorium. The advent of fixed seating ended the variety of community uses, ending one era and starting a new one.

This new era was a golden one, for it was the Golden Age of Cinema and The Columbian was one of the premier showcases for the new technology of sound motion pictures. As the late 1920s gave way to the Great Depression, the ticket price dropped and a movie at The Columbian was the only distraction to a tough life for many of the residents of Wamego.

World War II brought an even more important role for The Columbian in the life of the community. Hollywood threw itself behind the war effort, making countless films that rallied the populace to support the long and arduous conflict. And WWII brought the advent of newsreels. Family members thronged to The Columbian to see the reality of the battles and to possibly get a glimpse of a loved one.

But alas, the victories in Europe and Japan were harbingers of a drastically changed world at home. As the industrial might of America shifted from tanks and Jeeps to tractors and cars, a new era dawned. Returning GIs had seen the world, and cheap gas and new vehicles put the populace on the move. The Columbian fell victim to this newly mobile society. After all, an evening on the town in Manhattan was much more exciting than an evening at the predictable Columbian.


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