Lake Theatre

4 N. 4th Street,
Clear Lake, IA 50428

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Related Websites

Lake Theatre (Official)

Additional Info

Functions: Movies (First Run)

Styles: Art Deco

Previous Names: Opera House, New Opera House, Halvorson Opera House

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 641.357.2414

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Lake Theatre

The Lake Theatre is a traditional family owned and operated theatre that never closed. It is still operated in the same way that theatres were run in the 1950’s. The building once housed an opera house from 1890, but a fire destroyed the interior in 1935. The building was repaired and turned into a movie theatre, opening on January 18, 1936 as the Lake Theatre with Shirley Temple in “Curly Top” and George O'Brien in “Thunder Mountain”. The prices are very reasonable and the interior is very clean and comfortable.

Contributed by Ray Karcher

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

Trolleyguy on November 7, 2014 at 3:37 pm

No website for this theater, but they do have a Facebook page.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 7, 2014 at 7:37 pm

This web page has a few photos of the Opera House/Lake Theatre, with some reminiscences by local residents. The Opera House was built in 1890, and was a movie theater by the 1930s. It was listed as the 500-seat, second floor New Opera House in the 1897 Cahn guide, and as the Halvorson Opera House in the 1909-1910 guide.

A Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce page about the Lake Theatre says that the Opera House was damaged by a fire in the 1920s, and the building was reopened as the Lake Theatre in 1936. The house has been equipped for digital movies since 2012. A photo shows a very modern, curtain-wall, mostly stadium-seated auditorium, so I suspect that a rebuilding much more recent than 1936 has also taken place.

Clear Lake also once had a movie house called the Park Theatre, operating from at least 1930 into the 1950s, which we don’t have listed yet.

Lake Theatre
Lake Theatre on September 21, 2016 at 10:29 pm

We’re the new owners of the Lake Theatre (Purchased from the Sherman family in April 2016). We’d love to see more old photos, programs, etc. as we look for ways to enhance or restore the theatre!

Trolleyguy on September 21, 2016 at 11:20 pm

Congratulations and good luck. This little theatre is a great asset to the community. I would like to respectfully request that you also set up a theatre website for those of use who are not on Facebook.

Lake Theatre
Lake Theatre on December 29, 2016 at 3:15 pm

You can check out our website at or for those that might misspell it.

Trolleyguy on December 29, 2016 at 3:53 pm

Nice website. Thanks.

StanMalone on March 11, 2017 at 6:16 pm

This is a link to an article about the career of Bob Endres, the long time head projectionist at Radio City Music Hall. It includes a picture of Bob in the booth of the Lake Theater taken when his family was vacationing in Clear Lake from their home in Chicago. It is a good article for anyone interested in the projection end of the theater business.

I have been to this theater while attending the Winter Dance Party on Buddy Holly weekend at the Surf Ballroom. 1999 I think. A nice looking small town theater so much more welcoming that the 24 screen megaplexes that I avoid in Atlanta. Very nice people too.

50sSNIPES on August 13, 2023 at 3:51 pm

The Lake Theatre opened its doors on January 18, 1936 with Shirley Temple in “Curly Top” and George O'Brien in “Thunder Mountain” (unclear if any short subjects were added).

SethG on October 31, 2023 at 9:50 pm

For what it’s worth, the 1909 map shows the opera house, but the 1916 map shows only stores on the ground floor.

richardg on February 8, 2024 at 11:17 pm

Clear Lake Iowa is most notably remembered by old rock'n'roll enthusiasts as home to the Surf Ballroom. Three famous “Rockers” performed their last concert at the Surf. Though taking a backseat to the Surf Ballroom but still worth a visit is the Lake Theatre. The Lake is open 7 days a week with one 7:00 pm showing on weekdays and 3 showings on weekends at 1:00pm, 4:00pm and 7:00pm. Admission is $5.00 for adults and $4.00 for children. The auditorium has 6 beautiful art deco sconces and the foyer has 2 lovely ceiling fixtures. Completing this memorable image of past grandeur is a soda fountain next to the theatre. Supposedly, a there is a resident ghost from the 1935 fire.

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