King Opera House

115 Benton Avenue E,
Albia, IA 52531

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Additional Info

Functions: Movies (First Run)

Previous Names: King Theatre, Barbary Coast Opera House, Barbary Coast Theatre, Albia Theatre

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 641.932.5511

Nearby Theaters

Albia Theater...Albia Iowa

The 600-seat King Opera House was opened in March 1903. It was destroyed by fire on January 16, 1921. It was rebuilt and reopened as the King Theatre on November 17, 1921. It was equipped with a pipe organ. It was closed on December 8, 1981 with Faye Dunaway in “Mommie Dearest”.

It reopened on October 16, 1982 as the Barbary Coast Opera House, screening Albert Finney in “Annie”.

From June 16, 1995 it operated as the Albia Theatre and was closed in May 2020. It reopened as the King Opera House on March 11, 2022.

Contributed by Lost Memory

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

kencmcintyre on July 15, 2007 at 12:23 am

Hey, I can’t help it if you’re a little slow.

kencmcintyre on July 15, 2007 at 12:43 am

See if you can find a picture of the Rio at 118 Central SW in Albuquerque, or the Sushi King, which is there now. I was trying to navigate through the Flicker deal but I am hopelessly outclassed by the master.

kencmcintyre on June 30, 2009 at 3:24 am

Here is an April 1959 item from the Monroe County News:

Albia will again be one of the first towns in the country to see a motion picture when “Alias Jesse James” receives its Midwest premier showing starting Thursday at the King Theater. The film, a western comedy, stars Bob Hope and Rhonda Fleming. The plot develops after Hope sells Jesse James a life insurance policy and then tries to keep him alive.

Roger Katz
Roger Katz on November 10, 2014 at 8:00 pm

Now operating as the King Opera House

Chris1982 on November 11, 2014 at 5:43 am

Even though the theatre is now a mixed use venue they are still showing first run movies. Their most current attraction was “The Book Of Life”.

rivest266 on December 20, 2021 at 12:07 am

This has closed in 2020-2021 as showtimes are nowhere to be found for the King Opera House, but the Facebook page has posted renovation pictures.

50sSNIPES on September 9, 2023 at 8:16 pm

It appears that the King Opera House has reopened last year, as I recently saw Google Maps view of the theater. Its current functions are first-run features, family features, performing arts, and concerts.

The original King name was named after the first owner, Dr. Sylvester King, who opened the original 600-seat (later 550-seat) King Opera House (later King Theatre) during the first week of March 1903 and operated the theater until his death. After his death, Adrienne Moser and Mr. and Mrs. Roy T. Alford operated the theater until it was destroyed by a fire on January 16, 1921.

Some information about the original King Opera House featured a red-bricked front, a grand arched double-door entrance with six-round stained glass windows surrounding the arch. The original King Opera House’s first manager is Mr. Elbert Payton, who was a firm of Payton & Swearngen managers of the Centerville armory-opera company. After Payton leased the building on February 26, 1903, the total amount of seats that costed $2,000 were installed within less than 24 hours.

The King Theatre was then rebuilt and reopened its doors on November 17, 1921 with Helene Chadwick in “The Old Nest” along with speeches led by Mark D. Pabst and Attorney Chas. E Miller, and an unknown vaudeville segment before showing. The original pipe organ was played by Ms. Adrienne Alford, and was operated by Mr. Roy T. Alford and Mark D. Pabst.

As of 1921, the front view of the theatre featured a white brick enamel surface with the ticket booth in the center and plenty of space for patrons to pass through the large doors which were one of each side. They were also used as emergency exits. The interior of the building featured pleasing effects with harmony shades with old rose predominating including the soft stage curtains and lights as well as the carpeted aisles make a noiseless tread, and the organ sits low beneath the stage.

Talkies were installed in the Spring of 1929. Later on, Mike Galer was the operator the King Theatre during World War II, who installed the V-type marquee by the Roy Hansen Lustrolite Company of Davenport in October 1939 with an estimate $1,500, replacing a rectangle-shaped marquee. The marquee was first erected by the company on September 23, 1939. CinemaScope was installed in mid-1954.

On December 8, 1981 after running “Mommy Dearest”, the King Theatre closed following both building disrepair and the retirement of W.W. Hartzell (who operated the theater since 1968), leaving Monroe County without a movie theater for 10 months and a week. However, two months and a week later, it was announced that renovation will take place and plans to reopen the theater.

First-run movies returned to Monroe County when the King Theatre reopened as the Barbary Coast Opera House on October 16, 1982 with “Annie” after renovation led by the husband-and-wife team of Dan and Diana Walker along with eight other theater employees. However, during renovation, the theater was scheduled to reopen earlier that year in May or June 1982, but was delayed after the Walker family was involved in a vehicle accident in late-July 1982. The injured family members were transported to a Des Moines hospital, while back in Albia, members of the Albia Community Theatre were able to help renovate the theater while the family members recover from their injuries in Des Moines. Some features of the theater include an old-fashioned confectionary concession area, a capacity of 332 seats, and the restored marquee painted red and gold. Its policy at the time are mainly and primarily first-run features, but selective second-run and selective classic films were added sometimes as well as a couple of live performances, performing arts, special events, and concerts. However by the mid-1980s, only first-run films were shown, as well as a special event once-or-twice per year (such as performing arts and concerts). What’s odd about it is that the original embossed tin-ceiling were lowered, and were covered with composition ceiling tiles. Atop scaffolding, Dan cleaned the 30-ft-high ceiling with a vinegar solution before painting.

In early-1986, the Barbary Coast Opera House was refurbished, which also led to a schedule change. The change led the theater to show their first-run titles five-days-a-week instead of seven (Wednesdays through Sundays). This unfortunately would later change to three-days-a-week (Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays) and remained like that for many years.

Dan and Diana Walker operated the Barbary Coast Opera House for almost 13 years, even they became musicians for an extremely brief time in May 1992, but continued running first-run features at the time.

On June 1, 1995, it was announced that brothers Steve Goodson and Ed Cruz of Corona, California, would take over operations of the formerly-known Barbary Coast Opera House. However, Diana and Dan continued their live aspects of the theater which rarely happens there as it was a mainly first-run movie house.

The theater reopened as the Albia Theatre on June 16, 1995 with “Topdog” featuring updated installations of Dolby Surround Sound which replaced a previous Dolby system. Steve Rudd would later become the owner of the Albia Theatre by the late-1990s.

In 2010, the theater was purchased by the Albia Area Improvement Association and turned it into a publicly held entity. $60,000 were given for digital projection and newly-made sound system were installed both inside, $76,000 were given to replace all of the stage curtains, and a new roof for $40,000. The original King Opera House name returned the following year, and with its longtime primary first-run and special events house still running at the time, selective second-run and classic films returned as special matinees.

The V-type marquee that was installed in 1939 was removed on April 29, 2019, and the King Opera House closed in May 2020 following restoration of the building, which happened right at the same time the Coronavirus Pandemic took the screens away.

The King Opera House remained closed throughout the rest of 2020 and all of 2021, until it reopened its doors in early-2022. The King Opera House reopened on February 27, 2022 as a brief performing arts and concerts house, and on March 11, 2022, first-run movies return to the King Opera House (with selected family reruns during the holiday season).

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