Plaza Grill & Cinema

209 S. Main Street,
Ottawa, KS 66067

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Plaza Grill & Cinema

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Located in the Pickrell Building, erected in 1885. In 1905, part of the building was converted into the Bijou Theatre, which was later renamed Crystal Theatre. It suffered damage from a fire in 1917, and was closed in 1929.

In 1937, it was remodelled in an Art Deco style and was re-opened as the Plaza Theatre, operated by Fox Theatres. In 2007 it was remodelled as the Crystal Plaza Theatre. This theatre looks to be in great shape. By 2013 it was operating as the Plaza Grill & Cinema.

Contributed by Paul Salley

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

William on December 5, 2003 at 9:22 am

The Plaza Theatre seated 721 people.

dictionary101 on September 6, 2005 at 8:58 am

The area code above has changed. It is now 785. There is a recording saying “We will be closed until further notice.”

raybradley on December 15, 2006 at 5:41 pm

Boller Bros designed the Ottawa, KS, PLAZA Theatre, the Lawrence, KS, GRANADA Theatre, and the Oklahoma City, OK, PLAZA Theatre. Original facades on all three of these movie houses were very similar, almost identical.

neals49 on January 27, 2007 at 2:21 pm

The Ottawa PLAZA Theatre has been reopen and is under new managment they have restored the outside and neon along with remodled inside. I am not sure of the date of reopening though. I looks great on the outside however I have not been inside to enjoy this thearte since I was a kid going to the sunday afternoon movie.

kencmcintyre on December 7, 2007 at 2:04 pm

It looks like it’s called the Crystal Plaza now. I tried the website for the theater shown on this page, but it didn’t work:

Lyndon on December 2, 2013 at 6:13 pm

The Plaza Grill and Cinema in Ottawa is likely the oldest operating theater in America, having opened in 1905, predating San Francisco’s Victoria Theatre by three years. Here are the most recent Plaza Grill and Cinema press releases.

surf_digby on December 12, 2013 at 5:07 am

Was it operating between 1929 and 1937 though?

bigjoe59 on December 15, 2013 at 2:28 pm


the title of the “oldest continuously operating theater” in North America might go to the New Victory on 42 St. in Manhattan. it opened as the Theater Republic in 1900 five years before this theater. the New Victory as operated as a theater of some sort since then -live theater, films, burlesque, adult films and after being beautifully renovated back to live shows.

David_Schneider on March 9, 2018 at 1:20 pm

This article with interesting photos from the March 8th, 2018 print edition of the Lawrence Journal-World newspaper (posted on their website on March 6th) says this theater is now listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the “Oldest purpose-built cinema in operation”:

“Ottawa movie theater, owned by Lawrence businesswoman, now listed in the Guinness Book of World Records”

It now includes a movie memorabilia museum which the museum’s webpage says opened on May 15th, 2013. The newspaper article says historic tours of the theater are planned for later this month.

The article does not mention anything about it having had a grill and only calls it the Plaza Cinema. The museum may have replaced the grill as a photo in the article shows a “memorabilia museum” sign where a photo here on CT shows the “grill & cinema” sign to have been.

The article also claims it was called the Yale between being called the Bijou and the Crystal.

More history and videos on the Plaza’s news page.

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