Plaza Theatre

14 W. Jackson Street,
Iola, KS 66749

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Glen Dickinson opened the Plaza Thetare on May 20, 1933, in a building constructed by J.O. Allen, which was open briefly in 1929 as the first Uptown Theatre. Mr. Dickinson was quoted in the Iola Daily Register: “I am not coming to Iola to try to run anybody out. I am coming for no other reason than that I hold a lease on this building, which has yet 7 ½ years to run, and it would not be good business to let it stand idle. I expect to bring good pictures to Iola and I shall warmly appreciate the support of the public.”

At the time Dickinson operated theaters in Manhattan, Lawrence, Junction City, Independence, Parsons, Osawatomie, Osage City, Paola, Hiawatha, and Beloit, Kansas, and in Missouri the towns of Chillicothe. Fayette, Slater, Marceline, and Macon.

On January 28, 1935, it was reported that the Plaza Theatre’s lease had been terminated because the Iola Board of Public Welfare’s complaint of bank night. The Register opined that it was a small minority that was heading the opposition. “Bank night was portrayed as an Instrument that might produce a riot, bad government, poor health, and corrupt the morals of the youth. The argument used against bank night might as well be applied to any peaceable gathering of our people, such as church congregations, church revivals, schools, and Armistice Day.” It was said the bank night had been used in other theaters in Kansas with no complaints and the Kansas attorney general pronounced it legal.

Dickinson Theaters said the theatre had made no profits until they instituted bank night as a weekly event and so they voluntarily closed. Ira Kelley was to take over the film contracts for use in his Iola and Kelley Theatres.

Film Daily Year Book 1929 lists the Plaza Theatre with 650 seats and the building is the second building from the corner of Washington with “19ALLEN29” at the top.

Contributed by Ron Pierce
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