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There are a couple of pictures of this Fraser under the other listing. They should be moved here.
Closed sometime in 2018, website now dating spam.
The original facade, before the nasty remodel, was that of the old Solon. Although most of this block was destroyed by the fire in June 1931, there was enough of the Solon left that the Spencer was one of the first buildings completed. When I passed through in Nov. 2009, there was also an entrance lobby in the Moore building to the south. I assume the other two screens were there.
The Spencer was able to open so soon after the fire because the facade of the Solon was able to be reused. That explains why they seem to be basically the same building.
The address is incorrect. This Fraser was at 406.
Extremely poor listing. This has not been demolished. The address is 217 Grand Ave. It seems to have been a remodel of a garage/dealership which appears on the 1924 map. Definitely open by 1941. Now a law office.
Wrong theater. This is the Fraser.
The older pictures show the first Fraser, which was actually one door to the north.
This Fraser was a replacement of an earlier Fraser, destroyed in the 1931 fire which left this entire block in ruins.
I’m not sure this history is correct. The 1931 fire did destroy most of this block. The theater building seems to be on the 1924 map, but it has no label, except two small stores flanking the entrance. It appears to be a remodeling of a concrete block garage on the 1915 map. The 1941 map shows the Spencer with an identical footprint and layout. It’s possible this did not open until sometime during 1924. It is odd that the map has no label for that building. It may have been open since 1921, and there was an error where the surveyor forgot to label it.
Most of the pictures are wrong, including the main one. They show the Fraser, which is somewhere else. It’s very obvious from looking at the neighboring buildings.
Address is 201. Not sure if this has been demolished, but it was on Preservation Iowa’s most endangered list in 2018. A deadbeat owner had neglected it and failed to pay taxes, and it was seized by the city. Satellite view shows lots of holes in the roof.
The first movie was apparently shown in 1900, when a screening of a film of the Oberammergau Passion Play was screened here. May have been called the Storm Lake Opera House, or that may have been a way that people referred to it.
Fyock apparently became the manager of the World, and supplied the projection equipment. The World (later Empire, then Lake) opened late 1911, so this may have just been a one-season theater.
Another interesting note from the article: A very young Jack Benny played here on opening night. The theater was apparently not quite complete, which caused difficulties for the acts.
This opened Nov. 6, 1911 as the World. Owner and architect was J.M. Russell. Sometime in 1915, it was renamed the Empire. It may have closed in 1929, because the article this information came from says it ‘reopened’ in 1939 as the Lake. It closed in 1952 and became a store.
Much older than 1940. Appears on the Dec. 1914 Sanborn. Not on the 1909 map. Wide commercial block in yellow/orange brick. The stage tower is still up, but impossible to see from anything but the satellite view. Looks like the historical address was 108. Seems to be office space for the healthcare place at 112.
It’s crazy that such a tiny little town had so much going on. We may never be able to untangle it.
Also, this theater is not located at an intersection. This seems to be a common mistake by this contributor. It’s located well north of 5th.
Since we know that the website history is complete nonsense, I wonder if the ‘dome shaped theater’ referenced isn’t actually someone being confused about what an airdome was?
Thanks for the research. Basically the website history is nonsense, and not to be trusted. This seems most likely to be the Scenic.
The history on that website is wrong, or at least confusing. The 1933 map shows a vacant lot where the State is today. The Scenic/State is not dome shaped, and is still there. It was one block north. 1933 oddly seems to be the first year that a map was made, so I can’t say where the 1914 Scenic was.