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A few years ago (look back in this comment section) I mentioned that I was the last manager that closed the building down in 1990. The roof and some structural work could have been improved upon at that time but basically it was a very solid building. I guess I would get a kick to tour it one more time and see the damage done by the interlopers that got in there. We were off to a good start cleaning it up and minor repairs but it got sold and closed…At least it drew in some rent when I operated it for the trust dept of the union bank…how it stayed empty since 1990,I cannot fathom . I must have cost a lot just to insure and pay taxes on it and be closed. I sincerely hope it will be rebuilt, but in reality it has to pay it’s way somehow. Dave Scrimger
I still can’t believe no one can accept the address of95 n. main…since I live here and see the other bldgs every day…for those who know a little about the town the bldgs in the next block north are all starting with 100 and so on…accept it!!!!!!
used to take my sons there sats and sundays, a real good price and usually 2 or 3 recent films…a real bargain in the late 1980’s..we could afford it…big popcorn and sodas with free refills…always had a good time there…
I was the last on site manager of the california theatre building in san diego..I closed it down around august of 1990…it was in the coggeshall trust operated by the union bank..we had five restaurants on the ground floor….is there any real legitimate news about it..I was in san diego a few months ago and didn’t see anything happening…how can it sit for 20 years, withering away and costing someone money……d. scrimger
I personally knew Jim and Millie Watts, nice folks who had a dream. Jim was a commercial artist and he had a rendering of the theatre that he did and it came off just as he designed it. I still have one of their opening brochures showing off Jim’s art work. The only problem was that to build new theatres in the 1950’s was risky, because about ten or fifteen years later tv became a keen competitor…but it seems to do well as I drive by there every now and then you can’t miss it on the main street which is also state hwy 9…..thankfully there are people who appreciate a good theatre and restore them. The theatre contractor was E.W. Epperson & Co. of Sumner, Iowa
The pre 1919 photo is probably about right…I remember it had a neon sign marquee…isn’t it strange the name and then to be burned to the ground…
The california was in fair shape except the curved steel arches on the roof were sprayed with cement and they were rusting heavily, when I run it, it could have been rejuvenated. the halls were terrazzo and in good shape and there was a little spalling of concrete on the exterior…a contractor removed the spanish tile on the parapet wall while we were there because they were coming off..quite dangerous!!! I practically lived there…I wonder what happened to some of the restaurants that finished there…Mike Corbin’s Beefmasters by theatre entrance moved a block south and where is he now?…The chinese buffet on the corner of 4 and c moved a block away and where are they?….It was a convenient location right by city hall and downtown. At one time there were 5 eating places operating at the same time…..People were coming and going 24 hrs a day there…closed it aug. 1990..
I was a manager here for awhile in 1975, we ran movies and ocasionally a concert. It not only had a balcony but a gallery above that…and it was a steep slope …I would not want to trip on and go rolling down. There is a story that Ben Hur was done live there in the old days and they actually ran chariots from the side stage doors and on out…. it had a very large lift mechanism in the basement that could lift part of the stage up…for example to change a set or the orchestra…it is one large theatre….The theatre is a building inside another building so to speak..It has three walls of offices surrounding it that actually could be demolished leaving the entire theatre intact.
The theatre sat on an old mill site next to the Cedar River with a big open area of water underneath it…The foundation and floor of the basement are still there and it is like a park on top now….When the building (at95 n. Main) was torn down in 1972 they discovered that the dam, the bridge and the theatre foundation were interlocked. They actually tore down the building wasting it forever..great planning. I spent many a childhood days there watching movies, cartoons and serials. It was re-opened after it had officially closed and the Ten Commandments (1956) was shown there and kids were allowed to go on a field trip to see the movie..then it was empty for awhile and later made into the Melody Lounge until torn down.
also, the gem was built by the wright bros. local contractors then in 1911 and torn down in 1972 after being used for the melody lounge a night club.
sorry, its address was 95 n main st. check your city directory
When I ran the building, it had a feasability study to see how it would conform to earthquake protection, etc. Core samples taken and engineering was figured on it…it was cost prohibitive. An inner steel bracing structure system wopuld have to be added, plus fire equipment, sprinklers and more.
A shame that they just didn’t keep it going. For 17 years now it has been in the process of being ruined….Only someone who wants to throw money at it could re-do it…It would not garner enough rent these days to pay for the high labor costs of our present generation…remember when it was built…LABOR WAS CHEAP IN THE DEPRESSION AND A LITTLE BEFORE THAT TIME. Former building manager engineer, D. Scrimger
i managed this theatre for awhile in the mid 70’s…It has a balcony with rental space on the second floor under the balcony…It was a brick building about the equivalant of three stories high….The theatre office was in the basement…it used to have a barber shop on one side of the building and a lingerie shop on the other as viewed from the street….It always was a busy place…There once was another theatre in Cherokee, Iowa called the Arrow but that has long been gone.
Originally independently owned by an exec of Central States theatres, it was sold a few years ago to a local theatre group and has been lovingly rehabilitated with newer seating and a marquee like the originall one but with electronic messag board instead of changing letters by hand..restrooms are on the first floor now …the theatre never had a balcony although the origninal restrooms were on the second floor..a job well done…seniors get in for 1 dollar…a bargain runs all the time….
I was the last on site manager of the california theatre building in san diego..I closed it down around august of 1990…it was in the coggeshall trust operated by the union bank..I knew that place forwards and backwards…we had five restaurants on the ground floor..the theatre and seven more floors in the office tower for a total of eight floors…after closing, the restaurants were allowed to stay until their leases ended..I understand that it has been ramsacked of copper and brass…it had a beautiful mail drop box in the elevator lobby and some other amenities that were unique…terrazzo floors above in the halls with marble mop boards….Over the years I had even operated the projectors for special films…the organ society also had their monthly show their…tooo bad it has gotten beat up in the process..we were usually 90 % rented out in the offices…every thing from architects and engineers to fly by nights…many stories could be told about the place, just in my tenure…d. scrimger