Varsity Cinema

1207 25th Street,
Des Moines, IA 50311

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Related Websites

Varsity Cinema (Official)

Additional Info

Firms: Wetherell & Harrison

Functions: Movies (Classic), Movies (Independent), Movies (Revival)

Styles: Streamline Moderne

Previous Names: New Varsity Theatre, Varsity Theatre

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 515.650.3126

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News About This Theater

Varsity Cinema

The New Varsity Theatre is a neighborhood theatre which has been in operation since December 25, 1938. It was a conversion of an existing two-story building and replaced an older Varsity Theatre which was located around the corner on University Avenue.

It showed independent films and is located close to Drake University. It was closed on December 30, 2018 with “Cinema Paradiso”. In June 2021 it was given landmark status and renovations began.

It was reopened as the Varsity Cinema with two screens on December 15, 2022 screening Gene Kelly in “Singing in the Rain”.

Contributed by Bruce Nelson

Recent comments (view all 12 comments)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on December 30, 2008 at 4:56 pm

swede; That advert would be for the ‘old’ Varsity Theatre, which was located around the corner on University Avenue. The owners of the ‘old’ Varsity Theatre, Elias Garbett and his son E.M. Garbett built the New Varsity Theatre.

DavidZornig on March 16, 2009 at 1:28 pm

Interesting. The older photo in their website’s history link looks like the “mystery” Varsity, that was posted on another CT Varsity page.

The mystery photo on that page had college students perched on a Varsity marquee to view a parade or something in tyhe 40's or50’s.
Unfortunately I can’t recall what city or CT page the “rogue” Varsity was thought to be in.

kencmcintyre on March 16, 2009 at 2:53 pm

It was in Minnesota somewhere. It was a photo from Life magazine that was probably miscaptioned.

DavidZornig on March 16, 2009 at 3:26 pm

Thanks. I didn’t realize it was you that originally posted the “mystery” Varsity photo. The photo is actually on both the Peoria IL & Milwaukee WI Varsity CT pages.

But the mystery is still unsolved though, sort of.
The consensus seems to be that it is the Milwaukee WI Varsity, now part of Marquette University.
Though there are no other or current pictures with which to compare it.

The other Life Magazine photo was of Racine WI. So it could have been Gen. MacArthur’s parades in WI that all pics were originally culled from.
You are correct that it was miscaptioned as being from Chicago IL.,
where there was never a Varsity.
It was not Evanston IL’s Varsity either.

DavidZornig on March 16, 2009 at 3:34 pm

Forgive me for the following.
But would never finding out, be known as the… Varsity Drag?

DavidZornig on March 16, 2009 at 3:42 pm

Thanks, you are correct. The only thing it remotely has in common is glass blocks. And plenty more in the mystery pic.

LonPeterson on March 29, 2009 at 5:39 pm

Bev Mahon owner of the Varsity passed away friday March 27th 2009. He had owned The Varsity since 1954. He also owned theatres in Pella Iowa,Sioux City Iowa and Omaha Nebraska until settling into The Varsity. A true showman that will be missed by all

rivest266 on November 28, 2015 at 6:36 pm

December 25th, 1938 grand opening ad in photo section.

DavidZornig on June 30, 2021 at 3:33 pm

Varsity has been given landmarks status and is undergoing a 3 million dollar renovation.

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