Webster Theatre

610 2nd Street,
Webster City, IA 50595

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Webster Theater (Official)

Additional Info

Previously operated by: BigTime Cinema, Fridley Theatres, Pioneer Theater Corp.

Architects: J.R. White

Functions: Movies (First Run)

Styles: Art Deco

Previous Names: Orpheum Theatre, Granada Theatre

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 515.832.6684

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News About This Theater

Webster Theatre

The original Orpheum Theatre opened on November 29, 1909 (it has its own page on Cinema Treasures). It operated as a vaudeville theatre until September 1916 when the Orpheum Theatre moved to this new building right next door named the E. H. Martin Building, and began showing silent movies. In the fall of 1928 the ‘new’ Orpheum Theatre was remodeled and renamed the Granada Theatre. The main floor seated 600 and the balcony held 150 patrons.

On February 19, 1939 the Granada Theatre was renamed the Webster Theatre. By 1950 it was operated by Pioneer Theater Corp. In July 1988 Bob Fridley of Fridley Theatres purchased the Webster Theatre. The Webster Theatre was operated by Fridley Theatres until the mid-2000’s, when it was taken over by the BigTime Cinema chain.

It re-opened as a non-profit community theatre on September 19, 2014. The Art Deco style marquee has been fully restored. Equipped with digital projection and sound, movies are screened on the largest (non-Omnimax) screen in Iowa. In the Art Deco style lobby, uniformed staff greet patrons, ticket prices are family friendly.

Contributed by Lost Memory

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

kencmcintyre on September 5, 2007 at 5:25 pm

This was one of many Pioneer Theaters in Iowa in the early sixties. Pioneer was based in St. Louis Park, MN. The president was Harold Field. Other Iowa theaters in the chain at that time were the Atlantic and Corral in Atlantic, the Carroll and Caroll Drive-In in Carroll, the Arrow, American and Corral in Cherokee, the Clarinda and Clarinda Drive-In in Clarinda, the Center in Grundy Center, the Iowa in Jefferson, the Corral and Perry in Perry, the Sac Theater in Sac City, the Corral and Spencer in Spencer, the Corral and Vista in Storm Lake and the Corral and Webster in Webster.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 5, 2009 at 1:17 am

A tiny glimpse of the Webster Theater can be seen in this photo. It looks like the original Orpheum Theatre building is still standing next door. They could put a second screen for the Webster in there and have a hundred-year-old theater, sort of. But then, even having a 93-year-old theater is pretty impressive these days.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 12, 2018 at 5:46 pm

In early 1909, E. H. Martin’s son bought the Unique Theatre. A few months later the July 3 issue of The Improvement Bulletin reported that E.H.Martin had begun construction on a new building for the Unique Theatre. As there is no evidence that the Unique ever moved from its original location, I suspect that this project became the first Orpheum instead.

The project was designed by J. R. White, Webster City’s best known architect of the period, who had designed the Martin Telephone Company building in 1904. As Martin had hired White to design at least two projects prior to building the second Orpheum, it seems likely that he would have hired White for that job as well, though I haven’t found documentation that he did. Although the second Orpheum is more ornate than the first, the two buildings have certain elements in common, most notably the oblong, horizontal clerestory windows near the top of each facade.

Alan Bell
Alan Bell on September 16, 2018 at 10:50 am

The September 16, 2018 issue of the Los Angeles Times ran an article on Webster along with changing demographics of the area. Read entire article here.

50sSNIPES on January 20, 2024 at 2:59 pm

The Granada Theatre was renamed the Webster Theatre on February 19, 1939 after a five-week closure due to remodeling, reopening with Henry Fonda in “Jesse James” along with Paramount Pictorial and Paramount News.

The Pioneer Theaters chain operated the theater throughout the entirety of the golden age of films. Pioneer operated the theater from 1930 until Fridley Theatres took over the Webster from Pioneer in July 1988.

Trolleyguy on January 26, 2024 at 7:37 am

The theatre is currently closed due to a fire in November. The Facebook page shows repair work being carried out.

SethG on January 26, 2024 at 8:16 am

To be clear, the fire was next door. The original Orpheum was the building that burned. Lots of water and smoke damage to the theater.

50sSNIPES on January 26, 2024 at 12:46 pm

The Orpheum opened in September 1916 and briefly closed on August 6, 1928 due to major remodeling which featured installations of a mix of mostly Spanish and some Italian and Moorish architectures. The theater reopened as the Granada on October 10, 1928.

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