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Perhaps there is a future for this theater after all…
OTTUMWA, IOWA — With the ongoing effort of revitalizing downtown Ottumwa, the Legacy Foundation has recently purchased the two buildings on Main Street that were once the Capri and Capitol Theaters.
It was less than 50 years ago when these two theaters attracted people from all over Iowa to the heart of downtown Ottumwa.
Executive Director of the Legacy Foundation Brad Little said he wants to help bring the memories so many people had of the pristine theaters back.
But how long the restoration will take and how much it will cost is still up in the air.
“Our philosophy at the foundation has been, let’s do it right, let’s not cut corners, let’s make sure we think this all the way through and there are a million and one things we could do with that space. It’s enormous, both facilities are huge and so we want to make sure that at the end of all of this, when we cut the ribbon on those facilities that they also need to be sustainable,” Little said.
Little said the ideas that are presented have to make sense for the long term sustainability.
The twinning is what they called remodeling? Wow, funny way to use that term, and it cost 100 to 150k to do it? Wow, amazing it cost that much money to muck it all up. Its a shame what the twinning did to that theater. I heard even in its beaten-up condition it was an impressive single theater.
Also, glad to see that 3rd phase never happened. That would have been the end of that building for sure had the lobby been gutted.
I would say they got past that bump in the road as here it is, 7 years later and its still open.
Yes, so happy to see this theatre will be re-opening! I was rather worried about its future.
So sad, the future of this theater is in jeopardy due to feuding business partners. It would be nice to get new owners (actually, just replace the one owner who seems to have a history of shady dealings in Madison) and get that place back in business. So much work has been done and a lot to go and its still a VERY viable entertainment destination for downtown Madison!
he funny thing I remember about this theater was it only had 1 projector and it sat about 50 or 60 people. It was just a big square room. Every movie had an intermission while they changed reels. As soon as a multiplex opened, there was no way it could have survived. Its baffling how it lasted as long as it did, honestly.
Replacement of the lobby roof was completed last week.
Yes, they are in need of relamping. Also, needs some electrical work besides relamping. Right now the current project is replacing the roof over the lobby and some flashing work on the marquee that would need to be done before relamping could happen. The roof over the lobby should be replaced by the end of next week. The flashing work will be taking place sometime after that.
Sounds like this theater’s days are numbered, sadly.
Its my understanding this theater no longer shows movies anymore, its a live concert venue and used for weddings. They removed the seats all the way to 30' from the stage.
I just saw this post. Ralph, is there any way you could post a picture of these wall torch lights? If not, could you e-mail me a pic?
Until I can throw them up here, here is my flickr page with photos of the Capri V/Ottumwa/Capitol. http://www.flickr.com/photos/60993177@N00/sets/72157606188500182/
I would think since the Square occupied the same space as the Ottumwa, it would be safe to make it an aka for the Ottumwa theater. So strange that 2 theaters were built smack dab mext to each other and managed to stay around for so many years, existing next to each other.
The only mention I have ever found of a Rex Theater was actually of a Rex Theater that existed in Fairfield, IA. around 1950.
Yes, it looks like they added a 2nd story and removed the tower piece off the Northeast corner of the building but you look and the door placement and the tilework even look VERY similar.
I believe some man in his 70s recently died in the theater. I probably don’t want to know the cause of death.
Once I find where I put my photos I will put some up here. I took some pics back in July 2008 of the front of the theater after they stripped off the sheet metal facade. I suspect even 4 years later it looks the same.
However, the Capitol became part of the Capri.
I wish you luck MasterLong, I lived in Ottumwa for a short time and watched the place just get worse and worse and even now, the place seems overrun with illegals in street gangs, drugs, violence, its a real mess down there. The place has such an interesting history, it would be nice to see it brought back.
Look! Its the ceiling of the balcony!
I think this theater can be marked down as closed and demolished. A fire swept through it today injuring fire fighters when the roof collapsed. Here is the link to the story http://www.waow.com/story/17075826/crews-battle-blaze-at-abbotsford-theater
I believe this theater is closed now. The link to the official website seems to come up with a bunch of characters that look like Chinese letters. Anyone know for sure?
David! Great photos! I was there when you took those as we were getting ready for a concert that night. In fact, I was probably the one that let you up in the balcony to take some of those photos. Since then we have relamped the majority of the lights in the chandeliers with energy efficient bulbs making them brighter AND using less energy, the fans on the lobby ceiling were also cleaned.
Also, the website is now rhodecenter.org to reflect the name change from Rhode Opera House to Rhode Center for the Arts.
Sorry I never followed this up. The theater has recovered from the water damage. The only casualty was the original stage lighting panel from 1927 got flooded and had to be disconnected and any power routed through it had to be rerouted.
According to what I have been reading, the Stage Door Theatre is in the process of being removed so they can restore the Orpheum stage to its full original size. This is being done to accommodate bigger shows on the stage. They will still be showing movies but the focus is being shifted to live performances and bigger shows.