Silence Is Golden

Fran Riley Feature: Michael Zahs' collection of silent films.

WASHINGTON, Iowa (KWQC) — Michael Zahs says watching a silent movie is a talent most of us don’t have anymore. Zahs knows a thing or two about silent films.

The former school teacher from Washington, Iowa owns an extremely rare collection of silent films from the Brinton Collection. Also included in that collection are slides, business records, and other items.

Frank and Indiana Brinton. The husband and wife from Washington, Iowa who originally purchased the silent films from producers and showed them at opera houses around the Midwest a century ago.

The films show an amusement park in England, scenes from Egypt, and a river with raging rapids. One of a kind movies. The one from Egypt is thought to be the very first film ever made there. There are several silent films in the collection.

This year, the Ainsworth Opera House is one hundred years old. It was the hub for entertainment in that prairie town in the early 1900’s. The place where many people got their first look at silent films.

Zahs helped to resurrect the Brinton Collection from the basement of a home in Washington, Iowa in 1981. He says the collection and the opera house are connections to the past. He has shown some of the gems from the Brinton Collection at the opera house in Ainsworth.

Years ago, the original cement floor in the opera house was the Ainsworth High basketball court. The building also used to be a feed store.

Providing a rare insight into the way Iowans were entertained years ago. When Silence Was Golden!

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