An Exciting Discovery!

Yesterday, I was having lunch at Ad Astra in Strong City.

Marilyn McComber stopped by and said: “I have something for you that you are going to LOVE!”

I replied: “A million dollars?”

“Even better!” And she handed me an envelope.

Better than a million dollars?

I opened the envelope, pulled something out…and shrieked!

It was better! Well, almost better!

In my hand was an image. An image I’d never seen before. I caressed its edges reverently.

Where did you find this?”

“Vicky Dawson had it. She gave it to her sister, Kay Lauer, who gave it to me.”

I stared and stared at the image.

It was a beauty.

Wanna see?

Scroll way down…























WOW! The image appears to date from when the 1900 theater was brand new! Compare this with…


…the theater in 2012.


Now, back to the WOW image.



  • A wood staircase!
  • No stairs yet to the second-level south exit!
  • No huge first-level openings on the south wall (left)!
  • The long-lost front doors are visible!
  • Above, the long-covered fanlight window is visible!
  • The cornice is as plain as plain can be. Just like the recreated version installed about a decade ago!
  • The facade is dressed stone and the south wall (left) is rough stone (now mostly covered with stucco).
  • There is a huge water tank to the far right. Is this the original water tank for the city? Fascinating!


You can see the paneled original doors. There appears to be four. Also note the fanlight window above.


The fanlight! After being covered over since, it seems, circa-1940, the window is again revealed! It will soon be restored!


It appears that circa-1940 new doors were installed, and with glass block sidelights. The glass block are in good condition; the doors are in very poor condition and cannot likely be restored. Oh, hi, Scott Wiltse!





  1. Jan (Granger) Scheid on October 7, 2017 at 10:15 pm

    My brother and I saw many movies here over the years when we were visiting our grandparents. So glad to see this building getting the love and care it deserves. I see many of these structures around the state falling in disrepair and think of all the history that is being lost.

    • Ross on October 8, 2017 at 4:54 pm

      Very nice to meet you, Jan! Do you recall the names of any movies you saw?

  2. Casey Cagle on October 7, 2017 at 10:32 pm

    What a find!

  3. Dodi on October 7, 2017 at 10:40 pm

    Wonderful! Of course, the picture does ask a few questions. For instance…is there an exit UNDER the original wooden stairs? Given the huge cuts in the ground level, is there a way to see if there once was such a door? Was there once an elevator from the presidium to the basement? Since those cuts are there, it would seem to be an efficient way to move large sets in and out of the building. Questions, questions, questions!

    Oh my! What a wonderful picture!

  4. Jarrett L. on October 7, 2017 at 11:44 pm

    The doors and the chimneys caught my eye as soon as I saw the photograph. I also love the carriage and background buildings. Are any original non-stained windows still present?

    • Jarrett L. on October 7, 2017 at 11:46 pm

      Also, is the door in the 2012 photo (to the left) original to the building? It looks identical to the front doors in the original photo.

      • Ross on October 8, 2017 at 4:58 pm

        You have a good eye, Jarrett!

        Yes, the doors to the left (south) are original. As are the north exit doors.

        And they do, indeed, appear to match the lost main doors!

    • Ross on October 8, 2017 at 4:53 pm

      Hi Jarrett!

      Most of the windows appear to be original and most are extant behind the protective plywood.

      • Jarrett L. on October 8, 2017 at 7:35 pm

        Great! Nice to hear that many exterior bits are still intact.

  5. Rachel Creage r Ireland on October 8, 2017 at 4:01 pm

    Is that the infamous retaining wall I see on the far side? And a sizable house?

  6. Sandra Lee on October 9, 2017 at 7:56 pm

    Ross you remain the restoration King! How lucky this project is located in your current home town! I didn’t realize Strong City is located in Chase County?—& the alliance is involved with Tallgrass Reserve & Flint Hills projects! Love the Flnt Hills!

  7. Bethany Otto on October 11, 2017 at 6:29 pm

    What a treasure! It’s great how these things surface and how connections are made.

  8. Ken Grochowsky on February 17, 2020 at 11:10 am

    My maternal grandmother, Estella Holmberg, sang there when it was still an opera house, and my mom said sometime in the 1930s, she attended school in the basement of the theater because the old South Side School in Strong City had been condemned. Like many others, mom attended many movies at the theater, and for these reasons the theater is very special to me.

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