The Lights Are Back On At This Abandoned Art Deco Theater In Iowa And It’s Stunning

In its heyday, the Malek was a jewel in Independence, Iowa, pop. 5,000. The downtown movie theater was a gleaming art deco showpiece, bringing the latests Hollywood films to this rural Iowa town. After the Malek opened in 1946, it became the site of first dates and marriage proposals, money-saving matinees and festive Friday nights.

Over time the lights dimmed at the Malek. By 1996 the theater was closed and sliding into disrepair. The roof of the vacant building began to leak and it appeared there would be no second act for the Malek. But maybe this movie has a surprise ending after all.

Thousands of aluminum cans became part of the plot to save the Malek and you won’t believe how the theater looks today.

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:

Renovations and fundraising continues at the Malek and more work needs to be completed before it’s completely restored to its former 1946 glory. When the Malek reopens, it will host a variety of events, including music performances, guest speakers, comedy shows and more.

Do you remember going to the movies at the Malek? Share your stories and memories with us! Interested in other old movie theaters? The oldest movie theater in America is right here in Iowa.

Address: 116 2nd Ave NE, Independence, IA 50644, USA