Dodge Theatre

401 Main Street,
Keokuk, IA 52632

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Previous Names: Dodge’s Theater

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Dodge Theatre

Charles H. Dodge and his partner Mr. Reeves had launched Keokuk’s first movie theater in 1905 at Sixth Street and Main Street. Dodge decided to move the venue to larger quarters at Fourth Street and Main Street in the main floor of the existing Masonic Hall to accommodate both motion pictures and vaudeville. The venue was scheduled to launch as the Garrick Theatre but was changed at the last moment to Dodge’s Theatre. It opened with vaudeville and movies on November 2, 1907.

The building housing the Dodge’s and soon Dodge Theatre was, as noted, the Masonic Hall which had opened in 1856. It was then referred to as New Masonic Hall for at least the next year while the original Masonic Hall was referred to - for at least a year - as Old Masonic Hall. The Masonic’s Hall / lodge was located on the third floor. Different lessees were found in the basement, first and second floors of the complex through the years.

Dodge would drop vaudeville two years after opening there and fought against upstart theaters including the Colonial Theatre, the Bon Ton Theatre, and the Orpheum Theatre in the late-1900’s and early-1910’s. The big film attraction on January 11, 1912 was filmed highlights of the Army-Navy 1911 football game. Unfortunately, that turned out to be the final show at the venue as fire destroyed the theatre early the next morning on January 12, 1912. That blaze also ended the Standard Oil Company’s second floor office, the Electrical shop in the basement and the Masonic Hall. The remnants of the building caked in ice were razed within two weeks.

Dodge would move his bookings to the venerable Grand Opera House. Three years later, he would partner with Merle F. Baker to form the Baker-Dodge Theatre Circuit (aka Baker-Dodge Amusement Company) which would have a monopoly in Keokuk’s movie exhibition business by the early-1920’s.

Contributed by dallasmovietheaters
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