The Columbian Theatre
The Columbian Theatre


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                                                                                        History
   
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The story of The Columbian began over 100 years ago when J. C. Rogers, a Wamego banker, visited the Chicago World's Fair, otherwise known as the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. He was astonished at the beauty and scope of the event, which celebrated the 400th anniversary of Columbus' discovery of the new world.

The glorious "White City," as the Fair was known, included 200 buildings over 633 acres. It attracted more than 27 million visitors, nearly half of America's population, in the six months it was open. Its spectacular architecture, elaborate waterways and the fabulous exhibits inspired Frank Baum's creation of the "Emerald City" when he wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz just a few years later.

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1893 . 1898 . 1920 .
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1893-1917
Chicago World's Fair
The Columbian Exposition
The Columbian is Born
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1917-1927
Silent Films
Traveling Shows
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1927-1951
Talkies
Movie Theatre
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. At the close of the Fair, Rogers brought paintings and other artifacts back to Wamego to adorn his new music hall. It was a venue for vaudeville, drama, masque balls, concerts and community events. In 1912 silent films first played The Columbian, followed by "talkies" in 1929. It remained the community's center through WWII, where hometown girls might get a glimpse of loved ones in newsreels from the battle front.
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The Columbian . 1989 . 1994 .
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1951-1989
Silence
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1989
The Project: Saving the Columbian
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1994
The Columbian is Reborn Into it's 2nd Century
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. America emerged from WWII changed. A new mobility arrived and with it many small town institutions closed their doors. In 1950 The Columbian closed and was dark for 40 years. The only thing that saved it from destruction was that a furniture store remained open on the ground floor, motivating the owners to keep the roof in good repair. Today, a $1.8 million renovation has restored the building to a new level of elegance as a home for the arts and, once again, a place for the entire community to gather. And above all, the historic and rare Columbian paintings have been beautifully cleaned and restored and now hang in the theatre for all to see.
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