Pottawatomie County Economic Development Corporation

1004 Lincoln
P.O. Box 288
Wamego, KS 66547

Phone: 785.456.9776
Fax: 785.456.9775

Staff & Board of Directors

About the PCEDC

Museums, Culture and Attractions in Wamego.

The OZ Museum
The OZ Museum on Wamego's main street, Lincoln Avenue, features one of the world's largest collections of OZ memorabilia open to the public. Ranging from first edition books from the early 1900s, through silent films of the 1920s, the famous MGM motion picture of 1939, to the collectibles of today, the array of OZ artifacts is astounding. Arranged in 4 galleries, the museum also features a little theater and Aunt Em's gift shop.

The Columbian Theatre

J.C. Rogers, a local banker, opened the Columbian Theatre to 900 visitors on New Years Eve of 1895. Though originally called the Rogers Music Hall, the upstairs ballroom was renamed The Columbian when the stage was added in 1898. It soon became one of the foremost entertainment showcases in the Midwest and the cultural heart of Wamego.

Rogers adorned the building with a number of artifacts that he bought at the close of the 1893 Columbian Exposition and World's Fair in Chicago. Metal columns, ornamental windows, wood carvings, stone urns, and a 13' iron eagle originated from buildings at the fair. More notably, Rogers obtained eight 13'x18' mural size paintings that were commissioned by the U.S. Treasury Department for the Government Building at the exposition; six of these became well-known features of The Columbian.

The Columbian was renovated in both 1915 and 1929. The 1929 renovation completed its transition to a movie house, whereby fixed seating, a stair-stepped balcony, a projection booth, and a large screen were added. The Columbian operated almost exclusively as a movie theater during the years of the Depression and World War II. On February 9, 1950, in a time of National change, the Columbian's doors were shut for the next 40 years.

A great volunteer effort began in 1989 to restore the theater with the formation of the Columbian Theatre Foundation. In total, $1.8 million was expended in order to bring The Columbian back to its original great stature - a place to celebrate music, theatre, dance, and the visual arts. It is now also home to a museum, gift shop, and art center and often the host of special events. During the last renovation project 14 additional paintings from the Chicago Exposition were discovered in storage under the stage, which establishes The Columbian as the largest single repository of artwork from the 1893 event.

The Schonhoff Mill
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Schonhoff Mill was built by a Dutch immigrant in 1879. The Schonhoff family found milling to be unprofitable in this area and abandoned the enterprise within fifteen years. The mill was constructed from all local materials - limestone and wood - except for the main shaft which was hauled in by wagon from Leavenworth. The structure is 40 feet high with a base diameter of 25 feet. In 1924 members of the city park board conceived of moving the mill to the city park mound in Wamego. A volunteer group of businessmen and farmers was organized to move the mill to the park from its original site twelve miles to the north. The layers of stone were numbered as were the stones in each layer. All parts were moved to Wamego by horse drawn wagons and the mill was reconstructed.

The Ditto-Leach House
A fine piece of architecture, the Ditto-Leach House was built around 1890 by Louis B. Leach, a prominent early day businessman. The house was fashioned from memory to appear like a villa in the suburbs of Messina, on the Island of Sicily, where Mr. and Mrs. Leach had vacationed. The house contains 14 gables, 15 outside doors, and 25 columns. The restoration/reconstruction of the house was started in 1987 by Dr. Bill and Rose Ditto.

Historic Wamego Village

Located in the eastern portion of the Wamego City Park is the historic Wamego village complex, operated by the Wamego Historical Society. The central attraction is the museum, housed in a building that replicates the original City Hall from the late 1800s. Also located in the village is White Chapel School, the Louisville Jail, a log cabin and the only remaining reminder that Wamego was once the last stop on the main Union Pacific cross country line - the machine shop that was originally attached to the roundhouse. The museum is open from April to October and is also available at other times of the year by special arrangements.

Swogger Gallery
Located inside The Columbian Theatre, Museum and Art Center is the Swogger Gallery. Called the most beautiful art gallery in Northeast Kansas by the Topeka Capital Journal, the gallery houses rotating art exhibits while providing a home to the Columbian Artists, a group of regional artists who sell their work from the gallery.

Chrysler Home

Walter P. Chrysler, founder of the Chrysler Corporation, was born in Wamego in 1875. Compelling evidence suggests he lived in Wamego into his teen years where his father was an employee of the railroad. The home in its original location is now in jeopardy, so efforts are underway to move it to a suitable location where it can be viewed and toured.

Antique Shops

Wamego is the hub around which much small-town Kansas antiquing occurs. Located in the city are 5 antique shops. Paxico's noted antique shops are but a 15 minute drive away, and the shops of Riley, Kansas, are within 45 miles of Wamego.

Where to stay in Wamego?
Wamego Super 8

Simmer Motel

The Cottage at Cedar Meadows

Victory Inn Bed and Breakfast

Eagle View Inn

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The OZ Museum
The Columbian Theatre
The Schonhoff Mill
The Ditto Leach House
Historic Wamego Village
The Swogger Gallery
The Chrysler Home
Antique Shops
Museums, Culture and Attractions in surrounding communities
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