Old Depot Museum and Plaza Cinema bringing Harvey Girls back to the big screen

Franklin County Historical Society News Release

Contact: Deborah Barker, Executive Director, Franklin County Historical Society
(785) 242-1232 or barkerd@olddepotmuseum.org

PO Box 145, Ottawa, KS, 66067
(785) 242-1232 


Old Depot Museum and Plaza Cinema bring Harvey Girls back to the big screen

OTTAWA, KANSAS—On Thursday, September 10, the Harvey Girls are returning to the big screen in Ottawa for the first time in 69 years through a special museum and movie event.

As part of the Old Depot Museum’s current major exhibit, Meals by Fred Harvey, the museum and the Plaza Cinema will offer a special showing of The Harvey Girls, the iconic 1946 musical starring Judy Garland and Angela Lansbury. The Plaza Cinema originally showed the movie for five days beginning March 10, 1946.

Judy Garland plays a mail-order-bride who, after meeting her husband-to-be, decides to cut her losses and finds employment as a Harvey Girl. Although though the movie is fiction, the women who left home to become Harvey Girls were very real.

After several particularly violent confrontations involving male customers and male wait staff in his western restaurants, Fred Harvey began to hire women with the hopes that they would bring a civilizing presence to his dining rooms. Over time, more than 100,000 unmarried women known for their intelligence, manners, and high moral character were hired to serve in restaurants throughout the West. These women would become known as the Harvey Girls. By hiring women and offering them a decent wage and room and board, Fred Harvey created the first and largest female workforce in the country.

The movie begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are just $5.00 per person and can be purchased at the Plaza Cinema, 209 South Main Street, the night of the performance.

Before the movie, the Old Depot Museum’s Meals by Fred Harvey exhibit will be open during special evening hours from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Admission to the exhibit is free that evening.

The Old Depot Museum strives to educate visitors about the importance of trains in small towns and the history of Franklin County, Kansas. It is operated by the Franklin County Historical Society.

The Plaza Cinema is the oldest continuously operating movie theater in the United States.

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