800 Central Avenue,
Dubuque, IA 52001

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This very substantial ‘Summer Theatre’ appears on the 1909 Sanborn, occupying a corner previously the location of some wooden houses and a saloon. It was quite elaborate, including an elevated horseshoe ‘balcony’ around the outside. There was a large stage at the rear. The structure was about 2/3 the size of the Grand Theatre or Majestic Theatre.

The theatre was opened sometime around 1908 by the management of the Majestic Theatre. Movies began to be shown that year, between stage acts. The theatre remained in operation until at least 1913. It operated mostly in the evenings, after matinee performances of the same acts at the Majestic Theatre. Seating in the elevated portion (possibly bleacher style) was 15 cents, and chairs in the center cost 25 cents.

It was closed by the end of 1913. By the early-1920’s it had been replaced by a small gas station, which is today a bar.

Contributed by Seth Gaines

Recent comments (view all 1 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 29, 2023 at 4:56 pm

The September 12, 1913 issue of Variety had this item mentioning the Airdome:


“Dubuque, Ia., Sept. 11. After a season of eighteen weeks, the James S. Garside stock company closes at the Airdome next Saturday night. The company goes from here to Paducah, Ky., for a winter stay. The Airdome business was the biggest recorded in five years.”

Dubuque’s Airdome is mentioned in other national theatrical publications as well as Variety (New York Clipper and The New York Dramatic Mirror.) So far I’ve found it only in issues published from 1909 to 1913. It might be that it stopped booking the national acts that these publications followed, or it might have closed, or perhaps converted mostly to movies, though if the latter it didn’t get listed in the 1914-1915 American Motion Picture Directory. If it closed down permanently after the 1913 season, which seems likely, at least it went out on a high note.

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