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Theatre has graced Wauneta’s main street, provided entertainment for over 75 years PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Thursday, 05 March 2015 18:25

The Chateau Theatre has been one of Wauneta’s main sources of entertainment for many years. It survives with the help of many generous volunteers and sponsors within the community. (Christi Christner | The Wauneta Breeze)


Editor’s Note: This story is the first in an ongoing series highlighting businesses in Wauneta and Palisade.

By Christi Christner

The Wauneta Breeze


The Chateau Theatre has been a pivotal part of Wauneta’s community for many years. Although it has not always held the same name, it has been a source of entertainment and community fun since the 1930s.

Dr. Frank Rider and his wife Maryan owned and operated the Crystal Theatre, the first theatre in Wauneta. In 1937, the Chateau was built after a fire took the Crystal Theatre.

The Chateau then went between various owners and opening and closing because of controversies within the community and financial issues. The theatre is now owned by the Wauneta Chamber, and is managed by Richard ‘Pudge’ Hamilton.

Hamilton has been working at the theatre for 43 years. He started working at the theatre in 1972. His original job was to attend to some of the janitorial needs in the theatre, but was quickly taught the ropes in the managing side of things.

In 1975 Hamilton was officially named the manager of the Chateau Theatre. Hamilton also works as a mechanic at Frenchman Auto, a business his father and mother the late Orval and Mary Hamilton started.

“I like meeting all of the people who come in and visiting with them. You never know who is going to show up,” he said.

The Chateau is a volunteer-based establishment. Both the ticket vendors and concession stand workers are all volunteers. The Chateau has a booking agent who chooses which movies will be played in Wauneta that month.

In order to pay for the many movies that filter through the Chateau, both local businesses and individuals sponsor some of the movies.

In August of 2011, the Chateau was one of the first theatres around to switch over to the mandated digital projection.

The new equipment has created a better movie experience for viewers with both the sound and visual quality. It also gives the option of movies in 3-D. The Wauneta Community Foundation Fund, BWTelcom and individual donors made the purchase possible with their generous donations.

The Chateau is one of the many positive aspects of living in our small community. Movies are played Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights starting at 7:00 p.m. MT/ 8:00 p.m. CT. Admission is $5 for a regular movie, but $6 if the movie is in 3-D.

Not only is the Chateau a place for avid movie watchers, it also has hosted various other forms of entertainment. In the past there have been plays, concerts, and school performances hosted at the theatre.

Kathy Kerchal, treasurer of the Wauneta Chamber, said, “The Chateau is a huge contribution to Wauneta’s community. It is a place for kids to go and hang out, and it also shows fairly recent movies.”