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Rushville museum celebrates theater’s 100th anniversary

This year the Rushville Armstrong House Museum is celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Gourley Opera House/Plains Theatre and the coming of electricity to Rushville.   In 1914 David Gourley decided to build a theater for moving pictures, but he needed electricity.  So, Gourley built an electric plant and theater.

The theater was of the very latest style and the basement had a hard wood floor, which was used for dancing and roller skating.  The electric power house was behind the theater.  It contained two huge engines of which one or the other ran day and night to provide electricity for the whole town.  The Rushville Recorder dated May 22, 1914 states, “The electric light system was tried out last Thursday night and for the first time the streets of Rushville were lighted by electric lights.  The porches of many of the residences were brilliantly illuminated and the blinds of many of the homes were left up, while streams of light radiated from the windows.  The electric light plant is a perfect success.” 

The theater was also a success.  In the 1940s ‘50s and ‘60s, the Plains Theater entertained the community with movies.   In 1988 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Today, the theater is used by the Sheridan County Players, whom recruit actors throughout Sheridan County and have produced many outstanding plays and musicals.

Come visit the museum to see the Gourley display and the many new additions, like the new roof on the log cabin post office, the cookstove in the kitchen and other items.  We are open Monday through Friday and by appointment by calling Jerry Wellnitz at 327-2985 or 360-0299.

© Sheridan County Historical Society