Do you love architecture? What about history? And movies or performances? Well it’s your lucky day, because these 11 beautiful and historic theaters in Iowa offer all of those things. Next time you’re in the mood to go see a movie or a live performance, check out one of these amazing theaters.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life. While we continue to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, please take proper precautions or add them to your bucket list to see at a later date. If you know of a local business that could use some extra support during these times, please nominate them here:
1. Englert Theatre, Iowa City
Built in 1912, Englert Theatre is a renovated Vaudeville-era playhouse that now serves as a community arts center and performance venue. The theater hosts live music, comedy, dance, plays, lectures, film screenings, awards celebrations, and more.
This gorgeous theater seats 725 people, and has balcony seating.
2. Capitol Theater, Burlington
This beautiful art deco style theater was built in 1937, and was used as a movie theater/performance venue. The theater closed its doors in the 1970's, but reopened in 2012. It now serves as a performing arts center.
3. Charles Theatre, Charles City
The Charles Theatre, which was built in 1935, is one of only two art deco theaters remaining in Iowa and is the only one still operating. Fun fact: There's 24 carat gold leaf on the front of the theater.
4. Theatre Cedar Rapids, Cedar Rapids
Theatre Cedar Rapids is a community theater that performs several stage shows a year, and even offers acting lessons. Some notable alumni are Grant Wood and Ron Livingston.
5. Cresco Theatre & Operahouse, Cresco
Cresco Opera House was built in 1914, and replaced Lyric Hall as the community’s center for entertainment. In addition to the main theater areas, a party and dance hall was located in the basement. Nowadays, you can still see movies, but you can also rent the place out for a video gaming party.
6. Grand Opera House, Dubuque
Built in 1889, The Grand has known many stars, including Henry Fonda, Ethel Barrymore, and George Cohan. After showing live performances for many years, it started showing movies in 1915. By the 1980's it was back to showing performances for The Grand, which it has successfully been doing ever since.
7. Grand Theatre, Keokuk
The Grand Theatre was built in 1924 after the Opera House burnt down. The theater stopped showing movies and closed in 1957. In the 1980's, it was restored and is now used for live entertainment, conventions, and other events.
8. Paramount Theatre, Cedar Rapids
Built in 1928, the Paramount Theatre is a restored Vaudeville movie palace of the 1920's. The theater hosts concerts, fundraisers, corporate meetings, dance recitals and a Broadway Series. It's also home to Orchestra Iowa, the region’s premier symphony orchestra.
9. Watts Theatre, Osage
This is probably the most unique theater in Iowa, and a definite must see. The theater, which opened in the 1950's, has a really fun, retro feel to it, and is a great place to catch a flick when you're in town.
10. Metropolitan Opera House, Iowa Falls
This historic beauty was built in 1899, in a gorgeous Italian Renaissance style. It is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but has the latest technology to make your viewing experience one to remember.
"The Met" has hosted stars such as John Phillip Sousa, Otis Skinner, and Hugh Jackman.
11. Five Flags Theater, Dubuque
The Five Flags, built in 1910, is named for the five flags that have flown over Dubuque: the Fleur de Lis of France (1673–1763), the Royal Flag of Spain (1763–1803), the Union Jack of Great Britain (1780), the French Republic Flag of Napoleon (1803), and America's Stars and Stripes (1803–Present).
In the 1960's, the theater was in disrepair and scheduled to be demolished. Luckily, a group of citizens got together in the 1970's to save the theater. The gorgeous and historic theater is currently the home of the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra, and hosts concerts, ballet productions, and other performances.
These old, historic theaters have held a lot of memories for a lot of people through time, and it’s an amazing thing to see history so well preserved. While many other beautiful buildings in Iowa are now gone, these theaters were saved for our enjoyment, so let’s take advantage of that and visit them!