|The Government Building at the 1893 Columbian Exhibition|
In earlier blogs I have shared the importance of theaters and opera houses to the early settlers. (See "Saving the Old Opera Houses of the Plains," 12-11-2014; "Stafford (KS) Opera House," 8-7-2014; "St. John (KS) Convention Hall & Opera House," 6-26-2014 in the Blog archives.) Many towns on the prairie, imagining continued growth as well as filling the early settlers' longing for the culture of cities they had left behind to homestead, built theaters larger and more grand than might have been expected of communities where surrounding farmers were still living in dugouts and soddys. The desire for education for their children and culture for their communities was strong.
|West: Agriculture, South: Agriculture, North: The Shipping Trade|
|Steel & Industrial Arts|
|Architecture & Building Trades|
In February of 1993, one hundred years after the Chicago World's Fair for which the paintings were created, the paintings were taken down from the walls of Mr. Roger's theater to begin the painstaking process of restoration. Only then did the generation of Wamego citizens supporting the restoration discover that about a foot on each side of the canvas paintings had been folded under to create the shape and size Rogers had wanted! At least the paintings had not been cut, but the folding exacerbated the fragile process of restoration. The cost of saving the six paintings was $155,000 and necessitated cutting an enlargement in the height of a door to bring the restored paintings, now mounted for preservation, back into the second floor of the theater.
|World's Fair Souvenirs|
|World's Fair souviners|
Rather it remains a vital part of the Northeast Kansas community, in use for live performances, a Summer Theatre Academy for kids, and rentals for wedding receptions and other events. One specific group makes special use of the main floor gallery. More about the Columbian Artist Group, and other interesting sites in Wamego next week!
Visit www.ColumbianTheatre.com to read more.