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Friday, September 27, 2013 10:12 PM

‘Cinemagic’ find

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Staff Writer

The Plaza marquee advertises the 1947 movie “Forever Amber,” as a parade passes by the theater in downtown Ottawa. Peach Madl, owner of the current Plaza Grill and Cinema, 209 S. Main St., Ottawa, and a group of other Ottawa business leaders are launching a campaign to promote the theater as “the oldest operating cinema in America.” The building has housed a theater since 1905, which would predate other claims by about two years, project organizers said. Madl wants to turn the theater into an educational venue that documents the history of movie making. (Photo courtesy of the Franklin County Historical Society)

Peach Madl, owner of the Plaza Grill and Cinema theater, 209 S. Main St., Ottawa, discusses her surprise upon discovering the local movie house’s long history. Apparently operating since 1905, the Plaza now is thought to be the oldest cinema in the country, perhaps even the world. To see Madl, as well as Deborah Barker, Franklin County Historical Society executive director, explain the theater’s history and the recent photographic discovery about its real age, watch the video at (Photo by Bobby Burch/The Ottawa Herald)


On a November evening in 1905, a handful of curious Ottawans are seen climbing the stairs to the second floor of the downtown Pickrell Building. Having no chairs, they mill around while waiting to watch a newfangled form of entertainment called a motion picture.

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