S. Chestnut Street,
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Previous Names: Southside Airdome
Folks in Hays may have seen their first moving pictures at the Hays Opera House in 1905. And the venue hosted sporadic moving picture exhibition traveling shows. But the first full-time movie venue in Hays was located at Seventh Street and Main Street and was G.M Elwick’s Airdome that launched July 20, 1909 as a movie house with illustrated songs, a piano and movies. George H. Cox relaunched the Airdome for a second season in 1910 adding some live vaudeville to the mix.
In October of 1910, the films were moved to the G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) Hall becoming the first hard top venue for movies. The success of the indoor films three days a week led to the venue being run as the Electric Theatre beginning in 1911. Meanwhile, a new Airdome was constructed on South Chestnut Street sometimes referred to as the Southside Airdome (and nicknamed The Dome). Hays' second, Southside Airdome was said to be an improvement over the first one.
The Southside Airdome operated for five seasons from 1911 to 1915 and seated far more patrons with room for 500. Cox also invited churches to use the space on Sunday mornings or evenings that weren’t programmed. The 1914 season was programmed by the Hays Picture Show Company using Universal films. HPSC added 200 seats to the pavilion which seated 700. The Airdome was discontinued in 1915 as in 1916 movies were moved year-round to the Hays New Opera House. The Southside Airdome was presumably razed not long after the 1915 season.
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