Grand Theatre

316 W. 3rd Street,
Grand Island, NE 68801

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Related Websites

Grand Theatre, Grand Island (Official)

Additional Info

Previously operated by: Commonwealth Theaters Corp.

Architects: Larry P. Larsen

Functions: Movies (Second Run)

Styles: Art Deco

Previous Names: New Grand Theatre

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 308.381.8298

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News About This Theater

The Grand Today

Built on the site of the Lydia Theatre, which was remodeled as the New Grand Theatre and was due to reopen when it was destroyed by fire on December 8, 1936. (It has its own page on Cinema Treasures).

It was rebuilt and opened May 7, 1937 with Janet Gaynor in “A Star is Born”. Built with stadium style seating (an uncommon luxury for the time), the Grand Theatre had a reputation, at least in the 1980’s, of being absolutely immaculate, even including such non-public areas as the theatre’s basement and boiler room. The man who kept it that way was supposedly named Wally Kemp. The Grand Theatre was closed by Commonwealth Theatres on April 7, 1985 and it was thought that would be the end of its life.

It was rescued by a community group of volunteers, who reopened it on November 27, 1987 with Gene Kelly in “Singing in the Rain”. Over the years they have restored the building back to its original splendour, especially in their restoration of the splendid Art Deco style façade which had been rendered over.

Contributed by Mike Geater

Recent comments (view all 37 comments)

John_Lincoln on May 22, 2015 at 6:24 am

The Historic Grand Theatre is a 487 seat movie house that was opened in the configuration it is today in May of 1937. The Grand is now a fully volunteer run theatre for the community by the community. Take a look.

John_Lincoln on May 22, 2015 at 7:43 am

Also take a look at this clip that was done by Nebraska Stories for NET.

Hosehead_Jones on October 14, 2017 at 5:56 am

We actually received a tour of the renovated theater in September 2017. Happened to run into the prime mover of the effort to save her. The rehab is stunning, to say the least. They had Mohawk weave the carpet to the original designs. The place is nearly perfect in every detail only updated where it was required like ADA restrooms and digital projection.

If you get the chance to go in, do so. The non-profit runs the place with volunteers and shows movies. The interior is perfect. This has to be one of the best old American cinemas left. See if you can, they have a lot to be proud of in the city’s labor of love. If they could use original details and parts, they did. They did not scrimp or cheap out on any aspect of the restoration. Utterly amazing dedication.

ps as told to us, Wally Kemp operated the place. They have restored his basement office to near original right down to the furniture.

Trolleyguy on October 14, 2017 at 7:46 am

Updated website link:

dallasmovietheaters on December 11, 2020 at 7:39 am

The former Lydia turned Grand Theatre had a major renovation in 1936 that cost as much as most small-town new theatres in 1936. Owner Harry Schiller was preparing the theatre for a Christmas 1936 relaunch as the New Grand when a fire on December 8, 1936 destroyed the theatre. A new plan was drawn up with work starting almost immediately.

On May 7, 1937, the new New Grand launched with “A Star is Born.”

rivest266 on August 30, 2023 at 4:09 pm

1937 and 1987 grand opening ads posted.

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