Plaza Theatre

14 W. Jackson Street,
Iola, KS 66749

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Dickinson Theatres

Previous Names: Uptown Theatre

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The Uptown Theatre was opened on July 22, 1929 with Clara Bow in “Persian Love”, a conversion of a Brooks Furniture Store to the plans of architect J.O. Allen.. It was closed on October 20, 1929 when Glen Dickinson purchased the theatre. It was reopened by Dickinson Theatres chain as the Plaza Theatre on May 20, 1933 with Ken Maynard in The Two Gun Man". 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 theatres 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.

Closing on January 27, 1935 with Wallace Beery in “The Mighty Barnum”, 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 theatres in Kansas with no complaints and the Kansas attorney general pronounced it legal.

Dickinson Theatres 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

Recent comments (view all 1 comments)

dallasmovietheaters on September 7, 2021 at 2:35 am

The July 22, 1929 grand opening ad as the Uptown Theatre - located in the Allen Building and former Brooks Furniture store on the North Side of the Iola Square - is posted in photos. Clara Bow in “Persian Love” opened the venue for R. H. Montgomery. Within three months, the Dickinson chain purchased the Uptown closing it after the October 20th showing “The Romance of a Million Dollars.”

The announced change to the Plaza to reopen on December 1, 1929 didn’t occur due to financial complications. The theatre did have its new attractor and the inactive theater simply advertised the Kelley Theatre’s shows.

Dickinson’s Plaza Theatre (its formal name) launched as an ultra low priced continuous-run operation beginning on May 20, 1933 with Ken Maynard in “The Two Gun Man.” It was the Circuit’s 37th theatre. Its motto was “Cool as a cave” due to its air conditioning. Dickinson’s Plaza closed after the January 27, 1935 showing of “The Mighty Barnum.” Iola’s Public Welfare Board terminated the lease abruptly for its lottery-like Bank Night policy. The theater’s response, “Too much business seems to be a crime in Iola.”

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