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).”
As live stage performances gave way to motion pictures, the Grand’s popularity declined – and closed altogether in 1957. While it was retrofitted and reopened in 1965 to show large-screen movies, by the mid-1980s, the theatre had closed again and possibly faced demolition. In 1987, the Grand Theatre was purchased and donated to the City of Keokuk, so the city council established a volunteer commission to operate the theatre. The commission still manages the theatre today, which has seen significant improvements in the last twenty years.
The Grand Theatre is used today for live performances, conventions, and other events. For more information, including a current schedule, visit the theatre’s official website.