Grand Theatre

107 N. Kansas Avenue,
Olathe, KS 66061

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Grand Theatre

The 1912 Sanborn shows an indoor theatre and associated airdome on this corner. The theatre building was quite old, dating to before 1884, and used as a billiard hall on the 1905 map. The airdome portion replaced a large livery stable from the 1905 map.

Still open in 1914/1915, it’s unclear when this operation closed, but the building was demolished many years ago. It was a parking lot for a long time, but is now a grassy area south of the new county government complex.

Contributed by Seth Gaines

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 14, 2024 at 7:07 pm

I’m wondering if the Grand of 1912 might have been the same house that was operating as the Gem in 1916, described in the October 7 issue of Moving Picture World:

“Olathe’s One Picture Show.

“Olathe, Kan.— A city of 3,000 people, with 17 churches—and one moving picture show! That is Olathe, Kan. The picture show is operated by T. H. Wilson and W. W. Weldon, and they are said to be prospering. The Gem theater seats 521. It is closed in the summer, the pictures being shown in a pavillion, roofed, the sides of which are removed in warm weather. It has a hard maple floor, and is equipped with church pews and seats made to order. In the winter, the seats are removed, and Wilson & Weldon operate the pavilion as a skating rink and basket ball hall.

“But about the church pews—they are especially appropriate this summer, since the Methodist church, which was erecting a new structure, used the pavilion for its Sunday services. Olathe does not have Sunday pictures, so the business is not interfered with.”

SethG on May 14, 2024 at 10:13 pm

Could be. I suppose you could have stuck a roof over that outside space.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 15, 2024 at 1:41 pm

Here is an item from July 13, 1912 issue of Moving Picture World about the opening of the Airdome next to the Grand Theatre:

“Olathe, Kansas. —Weldon & Wilson have opened what is known as the Grand Theater Annex, joining the Grand on the south. It is an open air theater forty feet in width. The side walls and back will be of galvanized iron. The booth is fireproof. This new play house will seat 500 people.”
The fact that Weldon and Wilson were operating the Grand in 1912 and the Gem in 1916 may increase the chances that those were the same theater. The pair sold the Gem in 1919, along with a second Olathe house called the Moneta Theatre. This was reported in the July 17, 1919 Olathe News.

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