820 Center
Marysville, KS 66508
Movieline: 785-562-3715

History of the Astro

History of the Astro

The former Christian Athletic Hall is one of two buildings that today make up the Astro3 movie theater. Work on the hall began in 1912, and this photo is thought to have been taken that year because the construction is not finished. The photo is by Omar Hawkins and is from the Marshall County Historical Society.

In 1912, the Marysville First Christian Church constructed a Christian Athletic Hall. A large brick building was constructed facing Center Street. That building, which later became the Isis Theatre, is now the west half of the Astro Theater. On the first floor was a large gymnasium, which was used for basketball and roller-skating. In the basement was a nice swimming pool (which exists to this day, though not useful for swimming). On the balcony level was a walking track running the perimeter of the building. The building was used for various church activities for a time but was later given up for financial reasons. It was sold to Alexander Schmidt in 1920.

Work on the west building began in 1912 as the Christian Athletic Hall, sponsored by the nearby Christian Church, and offered young people a place to exercise. It was then operated as the Marysville Community Center for about 10 years, with a basketball court, swimming pool, lunchroom and meeting rooms. It was also used as a makeshift hospital during the flu epidemic of 1918-19. In 1924, the building was converted into the Isis movie theater.

The east building was a garage and car dealership until it was bought by Dick Smith in 1980 and converted into two additional auditoriums for the Astro.

Richard G. (Dick) Smith, a native of St. Louis, Missouri, began his love affair with movies and theater business early in life working as a youth in theaters during the "Silent Era." He served in both the Navy during World War II and the Air Force in the 50's and early 60's. However, his true passion was the movie business, opening his first theater in David City, Nebraska in 1965. In the autumn of 1970, he renovated the Isis Theater in Marysville, Kansas reopening it under the name Astro Theatre. In the 1970s he expanded the Smith Theater chain throughout Northeast and North Central Kansas with theaters in Concordia, Clay Center, Horton, and Hiawatha. Throughout the 1980s Dick continued to renovate and expand his screens turning the Astro into a Triplex and Concordia into a Twin. In 1998, he retired from a career of nearly seventy years in the motion picture business and maintained his residence in Marysville with his dog "Purdy." Dick sold the Marysville Theatre to his grandson, Michael Wilkinson in 2003. In 2008, the theater was purchased by Alex Shultz. Alex continues the Smith theatre tradition by obtaining premier movies for the Marysville and Marshall County area.