Iowa Theater

920 10th Street,
Onawa, IA 51040

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Related Websites

Iowa Theater (Official)

Additional Info

Functions: Movies (First Run)

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 712.423.1576

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Iowa Theater

The Iowa Theater opened on April 15, 1937 with Carol Lombard in “Swing High, Swing Low”. It has been in almost continuous operations since its opening. It listed seating at 600 when the theater opened but is listed as seating 544 today. It is independently operated showing first run features.

Contributed by Chuck

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

Chris1982 on November 17, 2014 at 2:38 am

Now featuring digital projection and sound, website

rivest266 on December 21, 2022 at 11:57 am

Closed March 17th, 2020. Website disconnected and no listings anywhere.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 11, 2024 at 7:17 pm

The January 16, 1937 issue of Film Daily had this item: “Omaha — Scott-Ballentyne Co. announces sale of sound projection and 500 seats to Bob Oliver and Mrs. Muriel Frandsen, who hope to open their new $25,000 house at Onawa, Ia., about Feb. 15….” The Iowa Theatre is first listed in the FDY in 1938, joining Mrs. Frandsen’s Onawa Theatre, which she had owned since 1926.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 11, 2024 at 7:37 pm

The Iowa Theatre’s web site should be updated to this new URL:

The old link now fetches a Chinese language website which my browser reports as “Not Secure.”

The new web site unfortunately has a bollixed history of the place, containing such claims as “[i]n 1945 Lopevitz purchased both theatres and upgraded them to talking movies.” Apparently someone is very, very young, and unfamiliar with cinematic history

50sSNIPES on January 12, 2024 at 12:23 pm

Robert A. “Bob” Oliver opened the Iowa Theatre’s doors with an estimate $30,000 in construction on April 15, 1937 with Fred MacMurray in “Swing High Swing Low” along with special performances by the city’s high school band and a ceremonial speech delivered by Floyd Sammon. Otherwise, it was unclear if any short subjects were added.

Original information as of 1937 goes as follows: The original lobby features a red cement floor and all indirectly lighted with soft light on the display boards. The box-office exterior was lighted with trimmed glass with chromium metal trimming. The original lights in the foyer were all installed by E. Maurice Bakke, and they carry two different color circuits which make possible three distinct blends of color combinations. The auditorium featured a variegated tan scheme in the walls and ceiling, and on each side walls vertical tiers of plasters fluted with chromium metal and hatches of opalescent glass for indirect lighting at the sides of the room, and were finished in Nu-wood.

The auditorium floor slopes about an inch-to-a-foot and the seat rows are placed 32in apart and are staggered assuring comfort and good vision of the screen. There is also a 28-seat balcony only for special occasions such as parties. On the second floor is an office and directly to the south is the projection hooked up with Western Electric Mirrophonic sound. The original air conditioner changes temperature during each season with an estimate every four-and-a-half minutes, and the carpeting was done by the Scott Ballantyne Company.

The original Iowa Theatre sign was created by the Kern Advertising Company of 310 Virginia Street, Sioux City, Iowa. The original color scheme of the sign featured a marine, green, gold, blue, and red neon lighting in a blue background. However the sign lasted until November 1959 when it was replaced by its current red and white V-shaped marquee.

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