102 3rd Street SE,
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Theatre Cedar Rapids (Official)
Previously operated by: RKO
Architects: George L. Fisher
Previous Names: RKO Iowa Theatre
The Iowa Theatre first opened its doors on June 6, 1928 as a vaudeville and movie house. The originally 1,800-plus seat theatre (later reduced to 1,500) was beautifully furnished with ornate antiques and offered one of the first crying rooms for mothers with fussy babies. A Rhinestone Barton theatre organ dominates the orchestra pit–and is the only one of its type still in operation today. Live acts were performed in front of the silent movie screen to the accompaniment of the organ.
A year after it opened, vaudeville acts took a backseat to the more popular moving pictures. For the next 50 years, the Iowa Theatre, with its hallmark two-story ear of corn on the corner facade, was one of Cedar Rapids' largest and most popular movie houses. Shortly after closing its doors as a movie theatre in 1980, the Iowa Theatre became the new home to the Cedar Rapids Community Theatre.
Over $2.5 million was raised in two capital campaigns to re-adapt the facility to a 513-seat, handicapped-accessible, proscenium-stage theatre. Rehearsal space, dressing rooms, a new green room and administrative offices were added. Much of the original grandeur was retained, while adding state-of-the-art lighting, sound and stage rigging systems.
Four years ago, the scene shop was moved to a spacious off-site location. In addition to the mainstage season, the facility remains busy throughout the year with other events, ranging from stand-up comedians to puppet shows to symphony chamber concerts.
Today, the Iowa Theatre Building is still home to Theatre Cedar Rapids, which is among Iowa’s largest community theatres.
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