The Plaza Theater, opened in 1934, arrived during the Golden Age of Hollywood. This was the period of film when ‘talkies’ were gaining popularity, and stars such as Fred Astaire, Katharine Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable, and Mary Pickford ruled the silver screen. The theater in Lamar quickly became a hotspot for the town, drawing in people from all over the county and even from outside its borders.
The Plaza Theater originates from a much older theater, however. In 1908, a man named E. E. Wagner opened a hall of entertainment, known as the Bijou Theater, on the downtown square. The smaller place went through a series of devastating fires in 1909 and 1921, which both left the theater completely destroyed. In 1928, Wagner decided to sell his business, and ownership fell to Arnold J. Simmons.
Simmons had big plans for the future of the Bijou. In 1934, he chose to construct a completely new theater in the southern part of the downtown square. He also decided to rename the business the Plaza Theater. This new theater would be a modern, eye-catching spot in the city. In July, the construction began and was quickly finished by October of the same year. Its grand opening occurred on October 25, where 500 people attended.
As time went on, the theater was renovated and in 1985 the theater suffered smoke damage from a nearby fire. In 1986, the Plaza closed its doors to the community. However, this was not the end of the theater’s story. Just eight years later, in 1993, Lamar residents put together a committee known as the Community Plaza Rescue in an effort to save the once-beloved business. After years of donations and community outreach, the committee was
successful and were able to remodel and reopen the Plaza Theater in 1998, and it is still open today.