Vista 3 Theatres

712 Lake Avenue,
Storm Lake, IA 50588

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50sSNIPES on November 23, 2023 at 6:08 am

The Vista Theatre opened its doors on September 30, 1938 with Jane Withers in “Keep Smiling” along with the musical short “Hawaiian Cappers”, with an estimate $45,000 in construction and was first operated by the husband-and-wife team of Mr. and Mrs. George Norman.

There is a lot of information about the Vista as of 1938, which goes as follows: The original seats are black and yellow gold upholstered seats, with sidewalls and ceiling dipped in celotex in shades of cream which blend into a warm brown pattern. An indirect lighting scheme is created with three hidden stripes of neon lighting on each side of the auditorium in a color combinations of powder blue, red, and white. A grand total of 522ft of neon was used forming an unusual effect. There are glass doors flanking the box office opening into the lobby with the other doors leading to the foyer. The proscenium arch of the full-sized stage is embellished in three shades of melon. The turquoise curtains are damask with the grain pattern, interwoven with satin threads forming luxurious shades of wheat, and the valance is a gold-colored panned velvet. The exit doors which are decorated in three shade of melon are also turquoise. The rampways that was measured 18in wide are decorated also in shades of melon with copper stripes, and the ceiling shades from beige-to-rich copper. Its carpeting was also the same color combinations of melon, brown, and copper. Mrs. Norman carefully selected the colors in the interior of the Vista which has chosen chartreuse green for the ceiling in the foyer. The walls on the east, or to the front, on either side of the doors are pale mauve. The two panels on the north wall were dipped in sky blue with mixtures of melon, copper, and turquoise.

An addition to the theater as of 1938 features an attracted water fountain on the panel built across a corner. The upper half of the panel is bone white and peach. Below is a gleaming structural glass in deep blue with veins of baby blue. The sparkling fountain attached to the panel is coppenhagen blue porcelain with a base of mediterranean blue. Two benches in white are the only furniture in the foyer. The walls in the lobby are gray and green and the ceilings are pale green. The doors and display fixtures in silver feature chromium hardware. There is also a large 36-inch mirror that reflects the image as one enters. The wrought iron partitions at the front of the foyer were lead into the large mirror that was luxurious lounge in pale yellow and light beige with modern panels of white and gold bordered in dusty pink.

The ladies powder room featured a yellow lemon colored ceiling, floral panel of sea green, soft pink, and yellow accent the turquoise walls. A novel silver powder drum is attached to the wall, with a white leather chair beside it. The sand colored carpet has a design of blue, coral, and brown. The lavatory is constructed out of daffodil tile with inlaid designs of raspberry red, with fixtures in citron yellow. The red tile floor is laid in the men’s room. There are two offices upstairs, one of which leads to the Normans and the other was assistant manager Joe Reilly. The offices featured shades of tan and brown walls.

The air conditioner in the entire theater changes the temperature every five minutes, and the projection booth is constructed of fireproof blocks, steel doors, extra thick cement floors and roof. There are also automatic fire doors just in case of an emergency. Speaking of doors, there are numerous of large emergency doors. Back of the 15x20ft screen features the passage of the sound are two diphonic horns for their Morophonic sound system. Lastly, people who are hard of hearing will be able to enjoy the pictures as well. Whenever a deaf patron desires a set will notify the usher as he enters the theater. The sets are regulated with a small control box making it possible for the user to get extra volume without annoying the person in the next seat.

Fridley Theatres took over the Vista in 1970, and was tripled in mid-December 1982.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 3, 2018 at 3:12 pm

The earliest announcement about the Vista Theatre might have been this item from the July 3, 1937 issue of The Film Daily:

“New $50,000 Iowa House

“Storm Lake, Ia. — George Norman, owner of the Empire Theater, will erect a new $50,000 house, seating 600.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 23, 2015 at 12:18 am

The original architects of the Vista Theatre were Wetherell & Harrison. The “Theaters Under Construction” column of the September 9, 1938, issue of The Film Daily said that the Vista was expected to be completed by October 1. The 650-seat project had been budgeted at $40,000.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 12, 2013 at 3:26 pm

The Iowa Library Quarterly for January, February and March, 1914, says that the Tuesday Club, a women’s organization in Storm Lake, had raised funds for their local library by holding a candy and popcorn sale at the World, Princess, and Palace Theatres.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 5, 2012 at 2:02 pm

The finding aid for the Liebenberg & Kaplan papers at the University of Minnesota Library lists two theater projects the firm worked on in Storm Lake. The first is listed as “Campus (Tracy Theatre) 1947-48” and the second as “Vista 1948”. The Vista must have been this house, but I’ve been unable to find any other references to theaters called either the Campus or the Tracy.

Storm Lake had a theater called the Empire operating from at least as early as 1916 and at least into the early 1930s, and I’ve found reference to houses called the Empress and the Princess operating in 1918. Storm Lake’s Opera House, which had been opened by 1889, was operating as a movie house when it burned down in 1916.

At least two movie theater projects were proposed for Storm Lake in 1913, but I’ve been unable to find names for them or confirm that either was built.

kencmcintyre on May 5, 2009 at 7:34 pm

I think World Theater may be an aka. The building material on the front of this photo looks similar to that in the 1982 photo.