Story Theatre-Grand Opera House

512 Broad Street,
Story City, IA 50248

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Additional Info

Architects: James S. Cox

Functions: Movies (First Run)

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 515.733.4551
Manager: 515.733.4318

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Story Theatre-Grand Opera House

First built in 1913, the Story Theatre-Grand Opera House featured vaudeville and silents until stage shows fazed out in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Movies dominated the theatre from then on, alongside with school graduations and plays presented through the 1930’s.

The theatre has never closed and has only had 13 proprietors in its history. In fact, it has earned the distinction of being the oldest continually running theatre in Iowa. Even the theatre’s decor has not changed in over 50 years. Some of its original seats can still be found in the balcony.

The theatre’s stage was closed in the 1940’s, but resurrected in 1988 for the theatre’s 75th anniversary. Now the stage is used a few times a year by the local theatrical troupe and movies are shown nearly every weekend of the year.

Movies went to a Friday, Saturday, Sunday schedule back in the early-1970’s. Richard and Virgil Peterson, brothers, ran the theatre, together with their parents, from 1946 to 1984. And the entire time, the brothers and family lived in an upstairs apartment at the theatre.

The Story Theatre-Grand Opera House is part of the Grand Hotel block, named for the recently refurbished hotel which has become home to offices for the local city government. The theatre and hotel block were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.

The current owner of the theater is Todd Thorson.

Contributed by Todd Thorson

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 13, 2013 at 10:34 am

The architect of the Grand Opera House in Story City was James S. Cox of Estherville, Iowa. He also designed the Windsor Theatre in Hampton, Iowa, which was built the same year as the Story City house.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 18, 2017 at 5:21 pm

The Story Theater’s website is unreachable with the current link. Try this one. No movies or other events are currently scheduled. That might be due to the winter weather, but I also suspect that the house has not yet been able to make the transition to digital equipment, a heavy investment for a house with an admission price of only $3.00.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 29, 2020 at 7:24 pm

The Story Theatre is in operation, but they haven’t updated their web site since last July. If you want to know what they are showing, the best bet is to check their Facebook page.

Trolleyguy on January 30, 2020 at 7:47 am

Pretty typical of smaller operations now. Go for the free listings on Facebook or other movie sites on the web rather than pay fees for website updates.

SethG on March 22, 2024 at 6:15 am

The 1916 map gives a capacity of 442. I wonder if the balcony being closed accounts for the difference.

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