Iowa Theatre

937 Main Street,
Grinnell, IA 50112

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Central States Theatres Corp, Paramount Pictures Inc.

Previous Names: Opera House, Colonial Theatre

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Iowa TheatreĀ© Grinnell IA / Billy Holcomb Collection

Originally opened as the Opera House in 1901. It became the Colonial Theatre in 1912. By 1941, it had been renamed Iowa Theatre and was operated by Paramount Pictures Inc. through their subsidiary A.H. Blank.

The Iowa Theatre was closed in 1960.

Contributed by Billy Holcomb / Don Lewis / Billy Smith

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on March 20, 2011 at 8:45 am

Open ~1930? Can anyone veify the exact dates?

Could use an address or crossroads, more info and photos are always welcome.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 20, 2011 at 5:14 pm

What I gather from a 1989 monograph on Grinnell’s theaters (PDF file here) is that the Colonial Theatre was at the southwest corner of Main Street and Fifth Avenue; was built in 1901 as the Opera House; had become the Colonial Theatre by 1912, when it began showing movies on nights when no live events were scheduled; presented the first talking pictures in Grinnell in 1929; had become a full-time movie theater by the mid-1930s; was at some later time renamed the Iowa Theatre; might have been called the State Theatre in its last years; was closed in 1960, and the building was later demolished by Grinnell College.

The paper is primarily about the Strand Theatre, and the Mart family which operated the Strand for most of its history, and the information about the Colonial is sparse and scattered. There is also a little bit of information about other theaters in Grinnell; Preston’s Opera House, and the Bijou, Lyric, and Star theaters. An Airdome is also mentioned.

There is a photo of the Colonial Theatre in the Arcadia Publishing Company’s book “Grinnell in Vintage Postcards.” The caption gives 1902 as the year of construction and gives 800 as the original seating capacity. It also says that the demolition took place in the 1970s.

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on March 20, 2011 at 5:45 pm

An undated postcard view of the Colonial Theatre in Grinnell.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 20, 2011 at 8:39 pm

Both the Iowa Theatre and the Strand Theatre were mentioned in Boxoffice of June 5, 1954. The Iowa Theatre was to be fitted out for CinemaScope, and the Strand was to be closed for the summer. The item also mentions the Grinnell Drive-In, which had been reopened for the season. All three houses were operated by George Mart.

“Grinnell in Vintage Postcards” also has a photo (page 32) of the Opera House/Colonial as the Iowa Theatre, ca.1949-1950 judging from the cars on the street.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 10, 2016 at 10:27 pm

Documentation of the Grinell Historic Business District for the NRHP says that the Iowa/Colonial Theatre was at 937 Main Street.

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