Movie Line: (785)242-0777 Office: (785)242-5555

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Wednesday thru Sunday






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It is the "World's Oldest Operating Purpose Built Cinema"

TIcket Prices

Adults: $8.75

Seniors (65+) & Military: $ 7.75 

 Children 10 & under: $7.25

Matinees (before 5:00) are $7.00 for everyone! 

WEDNESDAYS: ALL tickets are $5 

Plus Tax

Museum Open: 

Wed.-Sunday. Call ahead to ensure a tour time. 


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Event Rentals We offer packages for every type of event.

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Watch your family home movies or movie of your choice.

Starting at $95.00 an hour



We offer theater of your choice ,  seating of 90 to 125 per theater

Have your name in lights on our Marque

Price is dependent on time and length of event, start at $650.

Business Training events


We can help you connect with your team or employees thru big screen movies that are tailered to create ,motivate and instill loyalty.

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Use our state of the art projection and sound systems to create the perfect presentation on a 25' screen. use your powerpoint or any other multi-media format to present to audiances of up to 125

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Take your group thru the rates are available



We have tour packages of historic locations including the Railroad museum can include lunch or dinner or both for your group .

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Movie Line 785-242-0777

Plaza 1907 209 S Main Ottawa,KS 66067

Office 785-242-5555 Movie Line 785-242-0777

Theater Hours


By Appointment


By Appointment


11:30 am – 9:00 pm


11:30 am – 9:00 pm


11:30 am – 9:00 pm


11:30 am – 9:00 pm


11:30 am – 9:00 pm

Rent one Screen or the entire theater. call us at 785-242-5555

Plaza 1907 News




Ottawa Herald

Progress: Cinema is a hidden gem on Main Street

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Scott Zaremba admits he’s always got something going. Another idea, another project that’s already in the works. Zaremba, a local businessman who also has ventures in Lawrence, owns the Plaza Cinema, a hidden gem on Main Street in downtown Ottawa.

The grand dame has the distinction of being the oldest operating purpose-built cinema in the world, and Zaremba is doing everything he can to restore her to her former glory. After purchasing the building six years ago, he became its sole owner last summer. In that time, Zaremba has automated ticket sales, giving moviegoers the flexibility to purchase tickets online, along with gift cards and movie posters.

Up next for Zaremba is installing reclining chairs to enhance the cinematic experience for ticket buyers. That could happen within the next 90-120 days. Once the chairs are installed, moviegoers can reserve their own seat as they’re purchasing a ticket.

Another big project Zaremba is working on is the addition of two Air BNB Rentals on the second floor. Each rental features a full kitchen. He’s also renovating the viewing area, which eventually can be rented for private viewings.

On Thursday, he hauled out 8,000 pounds of plaster. On another day, it was 1,300 pounds of steel and metal. There’s also been exterior facelifts, including restoration work on the marquee.

“I’ve been involved in a lot of different things in my life, but one of the things I’ve enjoyed the most is restoring things,” Zaremba said. “Whether it’s a (vehicle) or a building, I want to be able to restore and repurpose it. You know, it’s either in your blood, or it’s not.”

One of his more recent projects involved the purchase and renovation of the former post office building.

At the time it was purchased, the building sat vacant for 18 years. Today, it’s an event center.

“I always see something interesting when renovating a historical building,” he said. “I want to be able to preserve these buildings so (future generations) will be able to enjoy them. I hate to see historical buildings torn down. I love to see them rebuilt and repurposed. When things like this building are built well, they’ll last for years if we maintain them.”

The Plaza Cinema opened in 1907 at 211 S. Main St. but was originally named The Bijou. It was also called The Yale and The Crystal before opening as The Plaza in 1935.

In the beginning, tickets were a nickel, and usually included two moving pictures and a song performed live.

The Plaza also features the Movie Memorabilia Museum, which includes one of the earliest motion picture projectors as well as other exhibits, including movie scripts, posters and props. Zaremba hopes to have a self-guided, audio tour soon. He also has plans to eventually broaden the tour to include much of downtown Ottawa.

“I think something like this can be a boon to the community,” he said. “There’s nowhere else you can see this, and I think it’s a big deal.”

″...And we’re trying to put something together as we speak – so we have a larger tour, featuring our historic downtown. I want to make it big enough where it draws people to stay in community and then go home and tell their friends.”

Movies aside, the cinema can also be rented for birthday parties, reunions and other events.

“With the technology we have, we can show anything,” he said. “We can play home movies. It’s a 112- year-old theatre with the latest technology. It’s kinda the people’s theatre.”

Press release: March 6, 2018

Ottawa movie theater named world’s oldest by Guinness

OTTAWA, Kansas --- The Plaza Cinema in Ottawa, Kansas, which opened May 22, 1907 has been named the Oldest Purpose-Built Cinema in Operation by Guinness World Records. The deco-styled downtown movie theater opened at 211 S. Main St. on May 22, 1907 and still shows current-run movies.

The Plaza’s record beat the previous record holder, the Korsor Biograf in Denmark, which opened in Aug. 1908, by more than a year.

Deborah Barker, who recently retired from the Ottawa Historical Society, uncovered a trove of photographs that indicated the theater was already operating in Ottawa’s early horse-and-buggy days.

Peggy Armstrong, Deborah Barker and film historian Bill Shaffer compiled and authenticated evidence using documents, news reports and photographs from the Franklin County Courthouse, Franklin County Historical Society and Ottawa Library, all in Ottawa, Kansas, and, an online database.

Convincing Guinness was a daunting task that required submitting documentation in the form of articles, movie ads and photographs for every year in the cinema’s 111-year history. It was increatable how thorough and professional the Guinness staff were,”

The extensive evidence required by Guinness led resurchers to discover daily ads that listed the titles of the movies shown in the cinema’s earliest years.

Over the years, the theater changed names and owners and expanded but never moved. It opened as The Bijou and for a time was called The Yale and The Crystal before opening as The Plaza in 1935.

When the cinema opened, tickets cost five cents and usually included two moving pictures and an “illustrated song” performed by a live singer.

Many of the moving pictures were made in France and distributed out of Kansas City. Titles of some of the first movies shown include: “Bad Mother,” “Pay Day Target,” “Nihilist’s Revenge,” “Blind Man’s Dog,” “Rival Brothers” and “Horse of Another Color.” 

Behind the current twin screening rooms at the Plaza, in the original stage area, now housing the Movie Memorabilia Museum. Exhibits include a numbered original Edison Kinetoscope, one of the earliest motion picture projectors, movie scripts, posters and props.

November 2015 

Plaza Cinema featured in ‘Sunflower Journeys’ Thursday segment

movie poster, movie theaters nearby

Click below to watch story

September 2013

Kansas movie theater discovers it is the oldest operating theater in America


Kansas movie theater discovers it is the oldest operating theater in America

OTTAWA, Kansas-- A movie theater in a small rural town finds it is the oldest operating theater in America -- and maybe in the world.

A recent donation of historic photographs made to the Franklin County Historical Society led executive director Deb Barker to alert Plaza Grill and Cinema theater, 211 S. Main St., that she had some very interesting photographs of the theater from the early days of 1900. That began the research that unraveled more than a century of “Cinemagic” in Ottawa

“Our records document a carnival on Main Street in 1905 that included two tents where movies were being shown. We have a photo of one of the tents on East Second St.” Barker said. “One movie was The Great Train Robbery; the other was about a great bank robbery.

“Later that year the Guardian newspaper recorded many stories about the first regular movie show being opened by Fred Beeler in the current Plaza Theater building,” Barker said. “The newspaper editor apparently was a big movie fan because he wrote many articles about what a wonderful cultural enrichment the movies were and what a fascinating and safe place for children during matinee showings.”

The plan is to re-create the movie theater experience by educating and entertaining guests from across the state and beyond.


“We want to create an even greater experience that travels beyond the traditional first-run movie audience. 

“We believe the economic impact created by a project of this size will be substantial, which makes it good for everyone.

Area residents are encouraged to share their favorite magical movie memories to be included in a documentary being made that will be one of the many features of the tourist attraction. 

Bill Shaffer, producer for Channel 11 -- Kansas Public TV, Topeka, whose father is one of the former owners of the theater. Shaffer plans to produce a film documenting the first movie ever made and short clips of historic films from silent movies to talkies and beyond. We have acquired a number of historical artifacts from the motion picture industry that would be part of a historical components’ exhibit, such as a kinetoscope, peep shows and stereo .

It’s about the impact the theater has had on so many Franklin County lives through the years, It’s about the retreat and escape a person could find here, leaving the world and all of its problems out on the sidewalk. There’s magic in these walls and a history that has so many layers we may never get to the original layer.”

Few other cornerstones in small communities across America offer the historical, emotional and cultural value provided by the local “picture show,” Sharp said.

“We have a significant artifact right here on Main Street". Make plans today and come experience history!


About Us



That's right, since 1905 the Plaza Cinema has been playing (or projecting) motion pictures. Just imagine 100 years ago, a person kind of like you (would be very old now) was sitting in this same theater, watching a motion picture on the big screen! That's magical, that's why we love it here, and that's why we want you to love it too. Be our guest at the Plaza Cinema and discover the historical magic of movies, watch a new release, or watch a film from the past–you could even do all three.Our Movie Memorabilia Museum has new and exciting exhibits all the time–from Elvis's hair to real costumes worn in big motion pictures! Trust me, it's cool.


  1. · Pickrell Buiding 1885                                   Source: Kansas State Historical Society
    Pickrell Buiding 1885                                   Source: US National Historical Registry
    Pickrell Buiding 1885                                   Source: Copy of United States Department of Interior Approval
    1905 Annuls of Ottawa Article                     Movie Theatre mention upstairs at 213 S. Main moving quickly to 211 S. Main
    1907 Ottawa Kansas City Directory             Location: Franklin County Historical Society p.36, E.E. Wagner, Mngr. 211 S. Main
    1910 Ottawa City Directory                          pg 58 Crystal Theatre C.J. Clark Propr. 211 S. Main
    1913 Ottawa City Directory                          Crystal Theatre (A.D. Birch) 211 S. Main
    1916 Ottawa City Directory                          211 S. Main Propr. W.A. Millington (moving pictures)
    1917 Crystal Theatre Fire                            Ottawa Herald Story- March 1, 1917 (copy of story)
    1917 Ottawa Herald Article                          “Washburn & Son are drawing plans for remodeling After fire” (copy of story)
    1921 Ottawa City Directory                          211 South Main Mgr W.A. Millington
    1922 Ottawa City Directory                          Crystal Theatre 209 S. Main Mgr. G.E. Klock
    1926 Ottawa Herald Ad                                For Movies Playing at Crystal
    1926 Ottawa Herald  Ad                               For Movies Playing at Crystal, Ottawa Tele Directory
    1929 Ottawa Herald Ad                                First Talkie Movies at Crystal
    1930 Newspaper Story                                 Fox Midwest purchased the Crystal and remodeled
    1934 City Building Permit                             “Plaza” 209 South Main permit for bathroom fixtures
    1934 Newspaper Story                                 Front Page “Reconstruction of Crystal is announced by E.D Dorrel Mgr Fox Theatres
    1935 Newspaper Story                                 February Grand Opening of remodeled Plaza
    1935 City Directory                                       pg 226  Plaza Theatre North Main
    1938 City Directory                                       pg 213  209 South Main
    1941 City Directory                                       pg 202 Plaza Theatre 209 South Main
    1946 City Directory                                       pg 231  Plaza Theatre 209 South Main
    1950 City Directory                                       pg 239 Plaza Theatre 209 South Main
    1953 City Directory                                       pg  218 Plaza Theatre 209 South Main
    1955 City Directory                                       pg 232  Plaza 209 South Main
    1957 City Directory                                       pg 141 Plaza Theatre Eugene Sappington Manager 209 South Main
    1959 City Directory                                       pg 112 Plaza Theatre Eugene Sappinton 209 South Main
    1961 City Directory                                       pg 156 Plaza Theatre Chester A Hylton mgr 209 South
    1962 City Directory                                       pg 125 Plaza Theatre Chester A Hylton mgr 209 South
    1964 City Directory                                       pg 128 Plaza Theatre Leon Roberston Mgr 209 South
    1965 City Directory                                       pg 113 Plaza Theatre Leon Robertson Mgr 209 South
    1966 City Directory                                       pg 104 Plaza Theatre Leon Roberson Mgr 209 South
    1967 City Directory                                       pg 110 Plaza Theatre Frank Banning Mgr 209 south
    1969 City Directory                                       pg 116 Plaza Theatre Joseph Matthews Jr. 209 South
    1970 City Directory                                       pg 103 Plaza Theatre Joseph Matthews Jr. 209 South
    1971 City Directory                                       pg 104 Plaza Theatre Joseph Matthews JR  209 South
    1972 City Directory                                       pg 105 Plaza Theatre Francis Glenn Mgr 209 South Main
    1973 City Directory                                       pg 107 Plaza Theatre Robert Clark Mgr. 209 South Main
    1974 City Directory                                       pg 120 Plaza Theatre Jerry Mason Mgr. 209 South Main
    1975 City Directory                                       pg.113 Plaza Theatre Jerry Mason Mgr. 209 South Main
    1976 City Directory                                       pg 122 Plaza Theatre Wayne Zarachary Mgr 209 South
    1977 City Directory                                       pg 130 Plaza Theatre Wayne Zacachary Mgr 209 South
    1979 City Director                                         pg 133 Plaza Theatre Joe Matthews JR Mgr 209 South
    1980 City Directory                                       pg 137 Plaza Theatre Daniel Cope Mgr. 209 South Main
    1981 City Directory                                       pg 136 Plaza Theatre Daniel Cope Mgr. 209 South Main
    1982 City Directory                                       pg 132 Plaza Theatre Daniel Cope Mgr. 209 South Main
    1983 City Directory                                       pg 133 Plaza Theatre Danel Cope Mgr.209 South Main
    1984 City Directory                                       pg 142 Plaza Theatre Daniel H. Cope Mgr 209 South Ma
    1985 City Directory                                       pg 149 Plaza Theatre Linda Wrisner Mgr 209 south Main
    1986 City Directory                                       pg 142 Plaza Theatre Scott Maples Mgr. 209 south Main
    1987 City Directory                                       pg 142 Plaza Theatre Steven and Mrs Lee Ann Bagby
    1988 City Directory                                       pg 141 Plaza Theatre   
    1989 City Directory                                       pg 151 Plaza Theatre  
    1990 City Directory                                       pg 148 Plaza Theatre  
    1991 City Directory                                       pg 151 Plaza Theatre  
    1992 City Directory                                       pg 38 Plaza Theatre  
    1993 City Directory                                       pg 40 Plaza Theatre  
    1994 City Directory                                       pg 46 Plaza Theatre  
    1999 City Directory                                       pg 44 Plaza Theatre Steven Bagby  209 South Main
    2000- 2005   Richard Dimoush
    2005 -2014   Ted & Rita Madl 
  2. 2014 - Present    Scott Zaremba


Come by and visit with Peggy Armstrong Resident Historian & Tour Guide & Manager