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Columbian Theatre, Museum & Art Center
Columbian Theatre, Museum & Art Center can be found here:

http://www.ooklnet.com/web/venue_info/20824/Columbian+Theatre%2C+Museum+%26+Art+Center

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Columbian Theatre, Museum & Art Center

Our story starts in 1893 with J.C. Rogers, a banker from Wamego who attended the Chicago World’s Fair. What started as a train ride to Chicago to visit the highly publicized world’s fair, ended with a vision of a great venue that not only provided a place for entertainment but magnificent art as well.
J.C. Rogers was a small town banker with big ideas. He had started constructing a building in 1892 which he planned to use to educate the community on the fine arts. After the world’s fair ended, he returned to Chicago and purchased paintings, iron pillars, stone columns and other artifacts to embellish his building in the heart of downtown Wamego, KS. The first event was a New Year’s ball held in 1895 and construction of the building was completed in 1896. The entertainment world came to life for the people of Wamego. The stage was graced with vaudeville, dramas, and concerts, in 1912 silent films were shown, followed by “talkies” in 1929 and it continued with motion pictures until the early 50’s. Her doors were then closed for many years.
In the fall of 1989 a group of Wamego citizens concluded that the Columbian would rise again. Their plan to renovate the facility included restoration of the murals, conversion of the retail space to the art gallery, and reconstruction of the theatre into an intimate and elegant 275-seat performance hall. After four years of detailed planning a $2.8 million fund raising effort and a yearlong construction effort, The Columbian reopened in November 1994, a magnificent theatre, museum and art center, the six murals on the wall were restored, and 14 more were found under the stage. Two of the fourteen have been restored, one hangs in the upper lobby and the other at the Kaw Valley State Bank. These twenty paintings are the only known decorative art forms that remain from the fair.
Today, The Columbian Theatre still stands proud in the heart of downtown Wamego, a showcase for art exhibits, live theatre, meetings, weddings, conventions, and numerous special events. The future looks bright for the J.C. Rogers dream.


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