The northwest corner of Corydon’s square comes to life each weekend when the Wayne Theatre shows a first-run movie for residents throughout the community and county. Featuring 75 cent concessions and $4 adult admissions, the theatre is run completely by volunteers. The theatre dates to 1936, built with cinder block in an art deco design.
After a decade of off-and-on use, a large group of community volunteers banded together to restore and reopen the theatre in 1990. The exterior was repainted and interior refurbished with new curtains and seats. Office on each side of the theatre was repurposed for use as restrooms and a business office. For current movie listings, call (641) 872-2750.
The colorful Watts Theatre in downtown Osage was a state-of-the-art facility when it opened in 1950. The original opening brochure highlights a number of unique features, from a cry room for little ones to a powder room for ladies to a heated sidewalk outside to melt snow and ice. After sitting empty for five years, local newspaper publishers restored and reopened the theatre in 1994.
The theatre changed hands again in 1998 and 2006; it has not only remained open through the transitions, but has seen a number of recent improvements including a new roof, equipment upgrades, and a second-story apartment now used as a viewing room and party facility. Its signature neon marquee was even restored in 2005.
Intricate neon and incandescent lights cover the red and white marquee at the Iowa Theater in Onawa. Located on the western edge of Onawa’s downtown district, the 275-seat single screen theatre dates to the late 1930s. It unexpectedly shut its doors in 1994 with a sign stating it was closed for renovations. In 2002, an Onawa resident purchased the theatre, which had fallen to a state of disrepair.
The dilapidated theatre underwent a quarter-million dollar renovation, with a new ceiling, all new seats, new draperies, doors and the latest screen and sound technologies. Movies are a reasonable $6 for adults, with specials on Monday and Tuesday nights; in 1982, seats were $1.50 each.
Like many small-town theatres in Iowa, the Lyric Theatre in Belmond is owned and operated by a local non-profit organization. In1992, the Belmond Area Arts Council resurrected the previously-closed theatre with a simple mission: “To provide quality entertainment at a reasonable price for the community.”
Nearly twenty years later, the Lyric Theatre is still in operation and showing movies daily for just $2.00. Moviegoers will appreciate the plush interior, which underwent extensive renovation in fall 2005. Floors were replaced, walls repainted and new reclining seats with cupholders were installed.
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The history of the Grand Theatre dates back to 1880, when the Keokuk Opera House first opened at the same location. The original opera house was destroyed by a fire in December 1923; the new and improved Grand Theatre opened less than two years later. At the time of opening, Keokuk’s Daily Gate newspaper wrote “the new Grand is a real gem combining the latest in beauty of design and finish, with dignity of lines, both interior and exterior, the latest devices for safety and the newest in ventilating and lighting system(s).”
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