Grand Theatres 3

1312 Second Street,
Perry, IA 50220

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50sSNIPES on January 5, 2024 at 2:03 pm

It briefly closed in 1979 but reopened a short time later that same year.

50sSNIPES on January 4, 2024 at 9:07 pm

The Grand Opera House opened its doors on January 1, 1904 with an unknown matinee, which happened two days right after the devastating Iroquois Theatre fire in Chicago that killed 600 people and injuring 250 others. The original building featured a large entrance that was also used in case of an emergency. There is also two other front exits, two double doors on the ground floor at the south side, and a double exit door from the balcony. The theater would then officially became known as the Grand Theatre during World War I.

After major remodeling, the theater was renamed the Perry Theatre on May 7, 1936 with a one-day showing of Jack Oakie in “Florida Special” along with a special performance by Carlos Molina and his 22-piece broadcasting orchestra and three acts of vaudeville. It was unclear if any short subjects were added on opening.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, both the Perry Theatre and the Corral Drive-In were operated by Jack Mertz, who was associated with Pioneer Theatres Corporation in Webster City, Iowa. Mertz moved to Perry in May 1959 where he took over as manager of the Corral Drive-In from George O'Brien who was transferred by the organization to Atlantic. Mertz purchased the Perry Theatre on March 1, 1964 from the Fields Brothers of Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Field Brothers were also the ones who built the nearby Corral Drive-In in 1949.

In 1977, the Perry Theatre was renamed Perry Cinema, and along comes Fridley Theatres who took over the Perry Cinema the following year in 1978. Fridley briefly closed the Perry Cinema in 1979 due to poor turnouts.

The Perry Cinema was twinned on August 13, 1982, reopening that day with “Annie” at Screen 1 and the original “Star Wars” at Screen 2 after extensive remodeling. The remodeling also caused the theater’s capacity of seats to downgrade. As a single-screener it had 700 seats, but after it was twinned it was downgraded to 400 seats (with 200 seats in each auditorium). Dolby sound was also installed during twinning. Nevadan George Snakenberg was one of those who helped remodel the theater, as he was the one who painted the seats in both auditoriums.

The Perry Cinema closed in May 1989 following major renovation, leaving the Corral Drive-In the only movie house in Perry for a time, but unfortunately the Corral Drive-In was on its last legs of operation. After the Corral Drive-In closed for the final time after the 1989 season, Perry was left without a movie house throughout the remainder of 1989 and the first quarter of 1990.

After a 10-month renovation job with a third screen being added, the theater reopened back as a triplex with its original Grand Theatre name on March 2, 1990. The Grand officially became the only movie house in Perry after the closure of the Corral.

Now known as the “Grand Theatres 3”, Fridley operated the Grand until July 31, 2008 when the theater was sold to the BigTime Cinemas.

Chris1982 on November 17, 2014 at 9:51 am

The Grand Theaatre 3 is now operated by Spotlight Theatres. website

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 13, 2013 at 3:10 pm

An NRHP document about Iowa theaters says that the Grand Opera House at Perry was built in 1903, and was designed by a Chicago architect listed only as Col. E. Young. I’ve been unable to find anything else about him on the Internet.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 5, 2012 at 1:33 am

The article Tinseltoes linked to confirms Liebenberg & Kaplan as architects of the 1936 remodeling job.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 5, 2012 at 9:58 am

The finding aid for the Liebenberg & Kaplan papers at the University of Minnesota has several references to theater projects the firm undertook in Perry, Iowa, including an entry specifically naming the Perry Theatre, dated 1935-36. That was probably when the ground floor facade was modernized.

As some of the entries have no theater name attached, Liebenberg & Kaplan might have worked on the other indoor theater in Perry as well. As it turns out the other theater was indeed called the Foxy, at least for a while, the former Rex Theatre having been renamed about 1927.

There is also one entry for a Perry Outdoor Theatre in Perry, dated 1947, so the firm must also have drawn the plans for the drive-in that once operated there. says it was called the Corral Drive-In.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 5, 2012 at 7:03 am

This theater was in operation as the Grand Opera House at least as early as 1908, when it was mentioned in issues of The Billboard. The building is recognizable in this postcard, which has a 1912 postmark on it. The ground floor has been altered, but the upper part of the building is largely unchanged, except for having been painted and having had the windows altered.

The Grand Theatre mentioned in the January 3, 1928, issue of The Film Daily is probably this house:

“Perry, Ia. — Youngclass & Latta, owners of the Foxy and Grand here, have bought the Strand at Woodward. They are planning a circuit in this territory.”
The Grand Opera House was listed in the 1913-1914 edition of Julius Cahn’s guide as a ground-floor theater with 769 seats, but was not listed in the 1901 guide. I’m not sure if the other theater mentioned in the FD item was actually called the Foxy, or of that was a typo for Roxy.