Park 70 Theatre

16 N. Washington Avenue,
Mason City, IA 50401

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Central States Theatres Corp

Architects: Harold Solomon Kaplan, Jack J. Liebenberg

Firms: Liebenberg and Kaplan

Previous Names: Cecil Theatre

Nearby Theaters

Park 70 Theatre

Built on the site of the Wilson Theatre which had been destroyed by fire in 1911. The Cecil Theatre opened June 3, 1912 with seating listed at 859. This was the larger of the seven theatres that were located in the downtown section of Mason City. The theatre was adjacent to the Eadmar Hotel, and was owned by the Cerro Gordo Hotel Company in the 1980’s. Prior to that time Central States Theatres operated the theatre.

70mm Todd-AO projection was installed on August 10, 1966 and it reopened as the Park 70 Theatre on October 27, 1966. It was closed in the mid-1980’s. The theatre was abandoned for some time before it collapsed in 1988.

Contributed by Chuck

Recent comments (view all 17 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 23, 2012 at 8:10 pm

Direct link to the issue of Life rivest266 cites. Thank goodness Mason City was protected from porn! (Or not.)

DenWeb on July 13, 2013 at 11:18 am

I worked at the Cecil Theater from 1957 to 1959 as a ticket taker, floor mopper, supervisor of the theater for inappropriate behavior (wielding my trusty flashlight), and updater of movie posters and the front marquee. My uniform was a maroon jacket, white shirt, bow tie and black slacks.
It was an interesting place to work. Ben Hur was the last stage production and the set was still backstage behind the movie screen, including the treadmill the horses ran on. The old dressing rooms with the star on the door were also there. There were box seats which were no longer used, and three balconies (the top one closed for safety).
I don’t remember the manager’s name (Harvey, I think), but he lived on my old paper route, I believe on 3rd St. S.W. Mrs. Arthur took over as owner after her husband passed away in 1955. I remember her as a grouchy, finicky old lady who lived upstairs and was a Hollywood celebrity wanna-be type. There were many times when she would dress to the 9’s, complete with diamond jewelry and mink stole for the local upper-crust festivities. On such occasions, she would often have me drive her brand new white Cadillac from its parking spot behind the theater around to the front. Her final directive was always “And don’t hit the curb with my white sidewalls!” I only did once that I can remember.
I seem to remember starting at 35 cents an hour and worked my way all the way up to 45 cents by the time I left for a better job at the Piggly Wiggly grocery store on 12th street. They paid 75 cents an hour.

paulnelson on November 17, 2014 at 7:56 pm

Beautiful old hotel and theatre in the post card picture. Must have been Mason City finest.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 18, 2014 at 8:32 pm

Liebenberg & Kaplan were the architects for the 1936 remodeling of the Cecil Theatre that kencmcintyre referred to in his comment on March 11, 2009.

Another major remodeling took place in 1953, when the open windows between the foyer and the auditorium were closed in, and the lobby, foyer, stairs, lounges, rest rooms, and office were all given a modern makeover. According to articles in the Mason City Globe-Gazette, the auditorium had been restored and repainted, but that in style and configuration it was still substantially as it had been when the house opened in 1912. Even the boxes were still intact.

The 1953 renovations coincided with Mason City’s centennial, and with the fiftieth anniversary of manager Thomas Arthur’s arrival in town to take over management of the Cecil’s predecessor, the Wilson Theatre.

The Cecil Theatre is listed in the 1913-1914 Cahn guide with 595 seats on the main floor, 410 in the balcony, 360 in the gallery, and 36 in the boxes. It was slightly larger than the Wilson Theatre had been.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 9, 2015 at 5:58 pm

An article in the June 12, 1953, issue of The Mason City Globe-Gazette said that the Cecil Theatre opened on June 3, 1912.

Coate on March 17, 2015 at 1:38 pm

To answer Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen’s question from January 20, 2007, about which theater held the world premiere of “The Music Man”…. the answer is: the Palace.

The June 19th, 1962, one-off event was actually a world premiere and press preview. The film didn’t actually open an engagement in Mason City until a month later on July 18th where it played day-and-date at the Palace and the Lake in nearby Clear Lake.

rivest266 on May 26, 2018 at 5:37 pm

This opened as Park 70 on October 27th, 1966. The Globe Gazette of November 7th, 1968 reports that an 500-seat cinema was to be added to the Park 70 as an new Cecil cinema to be built at the Mason Shopping Center.

Park twin and new Cecil theatresPark twin and new Cecil theatres Mon, Nov 7, 1966 – 58 · Globe-Gazette (Mason City, Iowa) ·

DavidZornig on July 23, 2019 at 7:30 pm

Three vintage images and three demolition images added via Casey Piper and Neal Brennan. Also via Neal Brennan:

Originally the Wilson Hotel and theater, built in the late 1800s, Then the Cecil Theater and the Eadmar Hotel (named after the owners daughters Edith and Margaret Rule).

SethG on October 18, 2023 at 10:21 am

One of the few nice buildings to escape demolition for the stupid mall that ate half of downtown, and they still couldn’t keep it standing. Now a really ugly bank building. I’ve added a Sanborn view to show how the theater fit into the hotel.

50sSNIPES on July 16, 2024 at 1:30 pm

The Park 70 Theatre never operated as an adult theatre later in its life. It has been a first-run mainstream theater throughout its entire life, although there are only a tiny amount of X-rated films being shown at the Park 70 in bits and pieces. Mason City already had one X-rated movie house in the 1970s called the Mini Cinema 16.

The Park 70 Theatre continued operating as a first-run mainstream house for a little more following the opening of the Cinema V Theatres in May 1985, but the Park 70 began bringing back several ex-first-run features that became second-run at the time as well.

Because of lost information, the Park 70 Theatre closed later in the mid-1980s before its 1988 collapse.

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