Dickinson Theatre

120 SE 8th Avenue,
Topeka, KS 66603

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Dickinson Theatres

Architects: Carl Boller, Robert O. Boller

Firms: Boller Brothers

Styles: Art Deco

Previous Names: Novelty Theatre

Nearby Theaters

Dickinson Theatre

Starting out as the Novelty Theatre in 1908, the Dickinson Theatre was smaller compared to its sisters the Jayhawk Theatre and the Grand Theatre. It would start out with vaudeville performers and comedy until the 1920’s, when it became a cinema.

Not much is known or remembered about the inside of the theatre, but there was a curtain, the “Dickinson” crest hung from the proscenium, and it had a balcony.

It would remain a popular movie theatre until the 1980’s, when it would suffer from competition by newer multi-plex’s being built around the city. This would turn the Dickinson Theatre into a discount, or “dollar movie” joint before its permanent closure on March 27, 1988. It would remain vacant until 1993, when it was demolished to create a parking lot.

The Dickinson Theatre was located on the corner of SE 8th Avenue and SE Quincy Street, across from the Topeka Performing Arts center (west of it). It has been said the original crest that adorned the Dickinson’s sign is stored in the Jayhawk State Theatre.

Contributed by Michael Parsons

Recent comments (view all 12 comments)

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on May 2, 2011 at 6:07 pm

1974,Leo Colvin was the manager and was written up for this promtion of “THE FORTUNE” Handing out Fortune cookies with prizes as high as $350.00.Not bad Leo.Boxoffice Sept.1974.

JoelWeide on May 2, 2011 at 7:18 pm

This was the main house that Dickinson operated in Topeka for many many years. Their other theater was the Fairlawn Twin and the Chief and Cloverleaf Drive Ins before acquiring the Mann properties.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 24, 2012 at 5:55 am

An advertisement for Boller Brothers in the July 10, 1926, issue of The Reel Journal listed the Novelty Theatre in Topeka as one of the firm’s works. David and Noelle’s list of known Boller theaters has 1926 and 1944 as the years when the Bollers worked on the Novelty, and also gives the house the aka Crystal Theatre.

Mike Gallagher
Mike Gallagher on June 26, 2012 at 1:50 pm

The Dickenson Theater was a real beauty inside and out. Yes, the stage area was altered for a larger screen and surround sound etc. I do not live in Topeka, but went there as a kid with relatives when I visited. Why in the world would the arts community of Topeka ever had let this be demolished for a stupid surface parking lot. It would have been a wonderful smaller performing arts venue or playhouse. Stupid is Supid is Stupid is is is.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 4, 2014 at 11:57 pm

This photo of the Novelty Theatre is dated September, 1926, which would be shortly after the remodeling by the Boller Brothers that year. The mid-1920s were a busy time for the Bollers in Topeka. Their new Jayhawk Theatre would open in August, 1926, and the Grand Theatre had been substantially rebuilt to their plans in 1925.

WTKFLHN on July 23, 2014 at 3:57 pm

I can remember a trip to the Dickinson to see a atrocious wide screen version of “Gone With The Wind”. I lived in the 900 block of Topeka blvd, and had 4 great theaters to pick from to go to the movies back then.

TheGYPSY on March 13, 2015 at 7:10 am

The Dickinson Crest is stored in the Jayhawk and I will be restoring it sometime this year. Here is a link to a current photo of it: www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10201557902544390&set=oa.771465282898637&type=3&theater

JoelWeide on March 13, 2015 at 8:32 am

Sooo glad to hear you are working on this Gypsy. Thats an awesome project, I sincerely hope it goes well. Be sure to keep us posted on your progress.

vimh53 on June 18, 2017 at 11:45 pm

I truly loved the Dickinson as I received my very first kiss there. And anyone interested, I do have only one of the Giant Mirrors that were in the lobby. And it is for sale. If interested contact .

rivest266 on March 26, 2024 at 3:47 pm

Final night of performances: March 27th, 1988. Article uploaded.

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