Lans Theatre

401 Main Street,
Lansing, IA 52151

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Additional Info

Functions: Auto Repair Shop

Styles: Art Deco

Previous Names: Blackhawk Theatre

Nearby Theaters

The original Blackhawk Theatre at 390 Main Street was listed as operating since at least 1941. It was damaged by fire, and in 1946 a new Blackhawk Theatre was built across the street diagonally opposite. It was renamed Lans Theatre around 1948 and closed in 1976.

Contributed by Chuck

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 29, 2009 at 6:20 pm

It was probably a name change, and Film Daily just didn’t get around to purging their list of the old name. Lansing had a population of about 1500, and probably wouldn’t have supported two theaters.

The October 2, 1948, issue of Boxoffice says that M.W. Long had bought the Black hawk Theatre in Lansing, Iowa.

A brief item in the January 15, 1949, issue of Boxoffice says that the Lans Theatre in Lansing was having a new marquee installed. No operator’s name was given, but after that, through the 1950s and as late as 1968, M.W. Long often wrote capsule movie reviews for Boxoffice, and was always listed as the operator of the Lans Theatre.

My guess would be that Long put a new marquee on the Black Hawk and, since signage for four letters cost less than for nine letters, he changed the name.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 29, 2009 at 6:57 pm

The 1948 item about the sale to M.W. Long is the only mention of the Black Hawk (as Boxoffice spelled it) I’ve found in the magazine.

The classified ad section of the March 4, 1974, issue of Boxoffice advertises a nameless, 300-seat theater in Lansing, Iowa, for sale, at $17,000.

The last mention of Lansing I’ve found in Boxoffice is this ad from the October 21, 1974, issue: “WANTED TO BUY: Theatre in Iowa. Indoor or indoor-outdoor combo. Prefer community size 7,000 to 10,000. Gene Mueller, Lansing, Iowa”

kencmcintyre on August 23, 2009 at 5:06 pm

This article is from the Cedar Rapids Gazette in April 1961. There is an accompanying photo of “the old Lansing Theater” on Main Street. This could have been a typo, or an alternate name for the Lans.

In Lansing a group of citizens has already incorporated as Medical Offices, Inc. The group is capitalized at $75,000 and plans to sell $50 shares of stock. The group, headed by Ben Spinner, has purchased the old theater building on Main street and is in the process of remodeling it. The downstairs will be used by the Interstate Power Co. The upstairs is intended to house 2 doctors and a dentist. Dr. F. S. Wilson is expected to occupy the dental office and Dr. John Thornton, one of the doctor’s offices. Now the group is looking for another doctor for the remaining office. Spinner said, “Rentals from the building will assure a sound financial base for running the building.” The project is expected to be done about May 1. Some 200 persons attended a public meeting Thursday evening in Lansing at which the project was explained and the sale of stock begun.

deacon on April 12, 2014 at 5:14 pm

Perhaps I may be able to shed some light on the Lans Theatre history. First, the original Blackhawk Theatre was directly diagonally across the street from the present building. After it suffered a fire, a new theatre was built in 1946 to replace it. The new one was called the Blackhawk also. M.W. Long purchased the theatre in 1948 and shortly thereafter renamed it the Lans Theatre. He made numerous improvements including the installation of the aforementioned marquee. I began to work for Mr. Long in 1960 as a projectionist during my high school years. Later, after having moved back to Lansing in 1969, my wife and I purchased the theatre. We operated it until August of 1974 when we then sold it to Howard Gaunitz. Mr. Gaunitz operated it until sometime in 1976 when he then sold the building. The theatre was stripped of all its equipment and became a floral and gift store. It was later remodeled into an auto parts, the date of which I am not sure. It was a fine theatre for a small town, but as the markets changed in those years, the viability of theatres in small towns became very tenuous. I moved to West Point, Nebraska and operated the West Theatre and the Y-Knot Drive-in. By the way, I am the same Gene Mueller who advertised it for sale in the Boxoffice magazine.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 15, 2014 at 2:49 pm

deacon: Thanks for the clarification. The listings of the theaters in Lansing in The Film Daily Yearbook are a bit confusing. In the early 1950s, several issues list both a 324-seat Blackhawk Theatre and a 340-seat Lans Theatre, but Lansing seems too small to have supported two theaters at the same time, even in the early 1950s. I have suspected that the editors simply failed to keep their list up-to-date.

Perhaps you would like to comment on the Cinema Treasures pages for the Y-Knot Drive-In and the West Theatre in West Point. We know next to nothing about them so far.

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