Date(s) - 05/22/2018
Wellington Public Library
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Wellington – Jim Bales, Chisholm Trail Museum, Wellington, is fascinated by Sumner County History, and he and other volunteers work each week to preserve Sumner County’s fascinating history and share it in articles, talks to groups, and with museum visitors.
Bales will present the program, “Early Entertainment in Wellington, and the Historic Regent Theater” to members and guests of the Sumner County Historical & Genealogical Society on Monday, May 22nd at 6:30 p.m. at the Wellington Public Library. Everyone is invited to attend the free program. For information or weather cancellations, contact President Jane Moore at 620-441-9835 or Vice-President Sherry Kline at 316-833-6161.
According to Bales, the first theater mentioned in newspapers was in 1907.
Prior to theaters, Bales said the Opera House, located on the southwest corner of 7th and Washington, where the Beehive Quilt and Toy Shop now stands, featured live acts, vaudeville, and even showed a few films before burning down in the early 1900s.
“There were several theaters in Wellington mentioned throughout the years,” Bales said, adding that there was an outdoor theater named the Airdome and two indoor theaters located in the 100 block of South Washington, right across the street from each other.
“Sometimes, the locations of the theaters stayed the same, but the name changed several times,” Bales said.
The Regent Theater building housed several different businesses before becoming a theater. The Ashland was the first theater’s name, but before it became the Ashland, there was a livery stable, then a wholesale grocery distributor, and then a roller rink.
Unable to afford some of the early days’ entertainment, Bales said in 1908, newspapers documented a juvenile crime wave, as some of the city’s youth turned to theft to be able to afford to go to the theater.
Bales said that he can identify with these youth.
“We used to ride around town on bicycles and pick up pop bottles,” Bales said, “and then cash them in at Hepler’s and hit the candy aisle.”
Bales will share information and photographs with a PowerPoint presentation, and particularly would like help identifying an early days interior photograph of a Wellington theater.