Iowa Theatre

2209 Main Street,
Emmetsburg, IA 50536

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Iowa Theatre

The first theatre on the site of the current Riviera building, this large two-story brick structure first appears on the 1907 Sanborn. Two storefronts flanked the entrance, and there was a generous balcony. The stage and a large fly tower were actually wider than the front, extending behind the neighboring building.

The 1905 Cahn guide entry for Emmetsburg states that a ‘New Theatre’ is being constructed, expected to be complete by September 1. This is almost certainly a reference to this theatre.

Despite the capitalization, it’s not clear whether that was the initial name. The 1907 map has no name, but the 1916 map labels it ‘Iowa Theatre’. It’s also not clear when exactly movies were first shown, but this was used up until it was destroyed by fire in 1936, and replaced by the present structure.

Contributed by Seth Gaines

Recent comments (view all 1 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 5, 2023 at 2:42 pm

The Cahn Guide was listing this as the Iowa Theatre by 1906, so probably its opening name. Although Emmetsburg does not appear in the 1914-1915 American Motion Picture Directory, the Iowa Theatre was being mentioned in Moving Picture World at least as early as mid-1917.

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