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Crystal Plaza Cinema: The World’s Oldest Movie Theater

All Rights Reserved Megan Bannister

For a number of reasons, Kansas doesn’t seem like the most logical location to find the oldest continually operating movie theater in the world. But when we realized the city of Ottawa was just off I-35 on our way to Austin, I knew we’d be making a stop.

Built in 1885, the Pickrell Building has been home to the Plaza Cinema since 1905. Originally the theater was called The Bijou, but later became known as the Crystal Theatre.

After watching a short video about the history of the theater and it’s role in the town of Ottawa, you’ll be led back through one of the building’s two theaters to the memorabilia museum. Seeing the theater’s original projector was definitely a highlight, though we also enjoyed perusing the many movie costumes and artifacts the museum had on display.

While some of the displays change from time to time, when we visited we spotted a wand box used in the first Harry Potter movie, a costume from The Hunger Games, an original Return of the Jedi script and more.

All Rights Reserved Megan Bannister

All Rights Reserved Megan Bannister

All Rights Reserved Megan Bannister

All Rights Reserved Megan Bannister

Visiting the Plaza Cinema

All Rights Reserved Megan Bannister

The Plaza Cinema is open daily for movies and every day, except Monday, for tours of the Memorabilia Museum. If you find yourself near Ottawa and want a quick hour-long diversion, it’s definitely worth the stop.

We also received a free movie ticket at the end of our tour if you have a little extra time and want to catch a matinee!

1 – 4 pm daily
Closed on Mondays

Adults: $6.75
Seniors and Military: $6
Children 12 and under: $4

Plaza Cinema, 209 S. Main Street in Ottawa, Kansas

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