Historic Stage in Northwest Iowa free to the right entity

posted by jmetten on December 4, 2006 at 4:50 am

While it has never been a full-time movie theater, the original Hawarden City Hall/Community Center comes equipped with a crow’s nest, stage and curtains. It could easily become one large, historic-looking theater or be subdivided into several.

Not only is this 1918 brick building free to the right company, it comes with an offer of one-third of the renovation costs up to $100,000. With the right vision, I have no doubt that this could be a profitable theater for an experienced firm.

If you are interested, please give me a call at (712) 551-4400. You can also learn more about Hawarden at our economic development website.

Comments (5)

JimRankin on December 4, 2006 at 10:57 pm

Isn’t a “Crow’s Nest” a platform high up on the mast of a ship? How does a would-be theatre come to have such? Your explaination and some photos may make your offer a lot more credible.

Also, where is this hall and just who is the “I” referred to? Name and connection to the place, please.

jmetten on December 5, 2006 at 2:29 am

Thanks for your comment Jim. By crow’s nest, I meant “a platform raised high above the ground”. It was really used for lack of a better term. My apologies for the confusion.

One can find pictures, as well as a detailed property report here. View link . If you are interested in the building, I can email you more.

This building is located at 715 Central Avenue, Hawarden , IA 51023 in the central business district of Hawarden (pronounced HAY-WARDEN). As this building was the original City Hall and Community Center for the City, it has always been owned by the City. The “I” referred to is Jason Metten, the City Administrator for Hawarden who happens to be charged with the task of finding a productive use for the building or arranging for its demolition if a productive use cannot be found.

It is really a beautiful old building. It has been evaluated by a structural engineer and found to be structurally sound. Unfortunately, no one locally has stepped forward to rehab the building. It is my hope that someone with theater experience, equipment and resources will come in and turn it into something we can be proud of rather than have another hole on Main Street of this small Iowa city. This in addition to the fact that there is not another theater within 20 miles, yet Hawarden is less than an hour drive away for more than 300,000 people leads me to believe that such an endeavor would meet with success if done properly.

Please let me know if you have further questions.

JimRankin on December 5, 2006 at 9:06 am

Mr Metten: I wish I could tell you that your quest will be an easy one, but likely it will not be. The entertainment industry is going through major changes now with the costs of live performances and even movies being far greater than the increasing variety of in-home entertainments which means that they are losing ground in all but the larger cities as the public stays home, and investors mostly look elsewhere for quicker returns on their investments. That said, there is still hope if you can keep the place heated and dry for the years that it may take to find a reputable, experienced operator. You might try listing your venue with basic statistics and maybe a photo in the trade classifieds in such as “Variety” and “Boxoffice” magazines; both have web sites. Also, you may want to list it with the data on the “Lobby” FORUM of Big Screen Biz at: View link
There are dozens of other properties listed there, but it is possible that someone will be looking for just what you have —IF your announcement is detailed enough in a theatrical sense. You must go beyond just listing such basic realtor’s stats as Date Built, Construction materials, Square Footage and Terms of Sale. You must get a man familiar with theatre/cinema design to tour it and write up a technical description; it need not be lengthy, but must fully describe any stage and auditorium so that a potential investor can judge whether or not it is worth his time to drive there. He would have to gauge the locale, business and governmental climate (are there tax incentives available or outright grants?), as well as such as available parking and adequate infrastructure. Do you have a Statistical Abstract prepared about the site and community? You might contact the Theatre Historical Soc. of America for a member that is willing to come there and do a Description gratis: www.historictheatres.org You would E-mail or write to their Ex. Dir., Richard Sklenar, for such a recommendation. Likewise, also contact the League of Historic American Theatres at: www.lhat.org but be prepared to pay for their recommending a professional theatres architect. Both groups will also accept ads in their Newsletters.

If you are serious about other uses and could bear to see the building gutted for them, then statewide or national business property realtors would likely be your best bet.

By the way, when I cliked on your link above, I got a ‘Not Found’ page; you may want to review that. Best Wishes.
Jim Rankin, member THSA since 1976.

jmetten on December 5, 2006 at 10:23 am

Mr. Rankin:

Thank you for taking the time to look at the project and for your kind input. I will do my very best to put your contribution to productive use.


kencmcintyre on January 4, 2007 at 2:34 pm

There was another theater in Hawarden that was destroyed by fire in January 1944. The theater was unoccupied at the time. I did some research but there doesn’t seem to be any record of the destroyed theater’s identity. I only know that the theater was owned by a Mr. Harry Lankhorst, Jr.

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