Avalon Theatre

131 N. Vine Street,
West Union, IA 52175

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Additional Info

Functions: Restaurant

Previous Names: Princess Theatre

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The Princess Theatre was opened by 1914. It was renamed Avalon Theatre in 1939. It was a small theatre with the aisle running down the middle of the auditorium. The screen took up the whole wall and the projection booth was really cramped.

The Avalon Theatre was purchased in 1974 by Peterson Theatres of Waverly, Iowa. It was closed on March 22, 1981 with “Tundra”. Peterson Theatres did not own the building and when the owner put the building up for sale the Town House Café next door bought the property and would not renew the lease. They used the building to expand the restaurant. The marquee is still in place. It was last used as office space and the building collapsed in late-March 2020.

Contributed by lon peterson

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

kencmcintyre on November 16, 2008 at 7:46 pm

Here is an article from the Oelwein Daily Register dated 3/2/70:

WEST UNION â€" “How many, please?” “How much is the popcorn?” “Where’s the bathroom?” It has been a long time since those questions were posed in West Union, 3 ½ years to be exact, but they are being asked here, now. The Avalon Theater has re-opened.

At Sunday’s grand opening, a good crowd composed largely of young people, attended the premier showing of Elvis Presley’s new movie “Change of Habit”. For West Union citizens accustomed to watching television at home each night or journeying out of town to see a movie, the Avalon Theater offers another choice.

A combined investment by the city and theater manager Duane Vorwald of $40,000 was needed to re-open the Avalon. The money was well-spent. Located on Vine Street, only the outside remains to be remodeled. Inside everything is new. Chandeliers hang overhead in the lobby. The walls are paneled. Carpeting on the floor and a concession stand of glittering metal and polished glass give the 250-seat movie house a touch of elegance. Sunday, there were flowers everywhere.

The Avalon will have movies every night of the week except Wednesdays. If the movie is good enough, it will run Wednesdays too. It all depends on the moviegoers.

For Vorwald, the theater business is a second job. He’s also a salesman. Thus, operating theaters in Elkader and West Union requires the assistance of his family. Wife Meralda sells tickets, keeps the books and cleans up. Daughter Nancy works behind the concession stands. Son Kevin will become the full-time manager of the Avalon.

It’s a good looking place. The scats are comfortable, the schedule of upcoming movies impressive, and the popcorn is good, too. Call the Avalon Theater a nice place to visit and if you do, the West
Union Chamber of Commerce will call their city a nice place to live. Quite a combination for northeast Iowa.

Chris1982 on December 11, 2014 at 12:42 am

This theatre was originally known as the Princess Theatre dating back at least into the mid-1920’s. It was renamed the Avalon in 1939.

CJ1949 on July 20, 2020 at 12:27 am

Photo taken May 2019. Theatre building used as office for Iowa Dept. of Human Services. In late March 2020 the building collapsed. The Waterloo paper and the Fayette County paper had articles, however the latter does not seem to have the article on its website. There are some photos on the Fayette County Newspapers' FB page but information is sketchy.

SethG on August 23, 2023 at 5:18 pm

Can’t believe I walked right past this and decided not to bother!

SethG on August 23, 2023 at 8:42 pm

The building was built in 1884, and was a dry goods store for many years. It’s shown as vacant on the 1913 map. It was apparently damaged when the old masonic lodge next door (then the restaurant) burned down sometime before 2015.

50sSNIPES on January 9, 2024 at 1:05 pm

Closed on March 22, 1981 with “Tundra”.

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