Orpheum Theatre

108 W. 8th Street,
Topeka, KS 66603

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This is a very rare theatre in Topeka, Kansas that has pretty much been buried with the passage of time. I found a bit of information on it at the public library.

Built prior to 1915, it was located downtown at 108 West 8th Street, two blocks west of the Dickinson Theatre, a block south of the Jayhawk Theatre, and three to four blocks south of the Grand Theatre. It originally seated 1,700, and functioned as movies and vaudeville. It was renovated in 1948.

A couple of tidbits about its history: out of the four big theatres downtown (including the Jayhawk, Grand, and Dickinson), this theatre was the last of them to get sound equipment for “talkies”, but it was the first to show 3-D movies. By the 1950’s or so, advertisements would dub this theatre as the “cool Orpheum”.

This theater would stand for 50 years, and would be demolished in 1965 in order to make room for a high-rise bank building and parking garage, which still remain.

Contributed by Michael J Parsons

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 15, 2011 at 3:25 am

There is a photo of the Orpheum in The Reel Journal, August 9, 1924.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 16, 2013 at 11:15 pm

The October 2, 1915, issue of The Moving Picture World said that the former Orpheum Theatre in Topeka had reopened as the Electric Theatre after having been closed for two months for remodeling by its new owners, the Grubel Brothers. The new name didn’t stick for long, though, and the house was called the Orpheum again by late summer of 1916.

The item said that the Orpheum, with a seating capacity of 1,700 and a good location on West Eighth Street, “…has had an irregular career, sometimes vaudeville, sometimes pictures, for several years.” I’ve looked for earlier references to the Topeka Orpheum, but haven’t been able to find any. Still, it must have opened quite some time prior to 1915.

WTKFLHN on July 23, 2014 at 2:09 pm

When I lived in Topeka in 1960, Fox Midwest was running the Orpheum and it was showing 2nd run movies, usually a double feature. The Grand, Jayhawk and Dickinson were all running 1st run features.

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