Grand Theatre

26 N. Sixth Street,
Keokuk, IA 52632

Unfavorite 1 person favorited this theater

Grand Theatre..Keokuk Iowa

The Grand Theatre was built in 1924. It was built on the site of a former Opera House which was also known as the Baker-Dodge Theatre. The Opera House/Baker-Dodge Theatre burned down on December 7, 1923. Opening night of the Grand Theatre was on Tuesday January 27, 1925, and had a seating capacity for 1,030.

In the 1940’s it is listed as being operated by the Frisina Amusement Co.

The Grand Theatre stopped showing movies and closed in 1957. In 1987, it was restored and is now used for live entertainment, conventions and other events.

Contributed by Chuck & Ken

Recent comments (view all 8 comments)

kencmcintyre on February 9, 2007 at 7:06 pm

The Grand was robbed in 1971, which apparently was big news in Keokuk

IowaBackroads on August 31, 2010 at 11:16 pm

The Grand Theatre was featured as the Iowa Backroads Photo of the Day in August 2010; the photo was taken June 20, 2009.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 27, 2013 at 7:24 pm

The photo currently on display on this page depicts the original Keokuk Opera House which was destroyed by a fire in 1923 and replaced by the Grand Theatre. The photos section has an image of the 1925 Grand Theatre, posted by Don Lewis, which would be a better choice to display on this page.

Although a couple of travel-oriented web sites and any number of link farms (and Wikipedia, not surprisingly) say that Mere F. Baker designed the Grand Theatre, this page at the Grand’s official web site says only that “[i]n a matter of a few days after the destruction Merle F. Baker, a leading businessman in Keokuk, was determined to rebuild the Grand Theatre as a community theatre continuing with vaudeville stage shows.” I’ve found no evidence anywhere else on the Internet that Baker was an architect. He was actually the Baker of Baker-Dodge Theatres, the company that operated the Grand and a number of other Keokuk movie houses.

This house actually opened as the New Grand Theatre. Baker-Dodge had been operating the old Keokuk Opera House under the name Grand Theatre at the time it was destroyed. Although I’ve been unable to discover the architect of the New Grand, the Keokuk Opera House was designed by Chicago theater architect Oscar Cobb prior to 1885.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 28, 2013 at 4:31 am

The February 26, 1921, issue of The American Contractor has a notice that a $35,000 house was to be built at Keokuk for M. F. Baker. This was probably Merle F. Baker. It was being designed by the Chicago firm of Tallmadge & Watson. I would expect that, if Baker had been an architect, he’d have designed his own house. It seems more likely than ever that Baker was merely the co-owner of the Grand Theatre, not its architect.

vinray89 on January 13, 2018 at 4:49 pm

I have to disagree with the comment above that states that the Grand closed in 1957. I can vividly remember going there in the 1970’s to watch movies like “Smokey and the Bandit” and “Jaws” among others, so I’m sure it didn’t close until sometime in the early 1980’s.

vinray89 on January 13, 2018 at 4:57 pm

Interesting article about some of the Baker family that had ties to the Grand theater and their thoughts about it’s restoration.

vinray89 on January 13, 2018 at 5:03 pm

Friday, December 7, 1923 KEOKUK’S 43 YEAR OLD OPERA HOUSE IS GUTTED IN EARLY MORNING BLAZE. About an hour after yesterday evenings last performance of Frank Craven’s comic tragedy “THE FIRST YEAR” at approximately 12:30 a.m. Keokuk’s 43 year old opera house, Known as THE GRAND since 1914, was gutted by a fire, which some believe may have been smoldering during the final act of the play. The Keokuk Opera House was constructed in 1880 at a cost of $30,000, at the time it was considered to be the most pretentious structure in Keokuk. This 60 x 68 foot building had an auditorium which could accommodate more than a thousand persons. The grand entrance was 20 feet wide and the stage was the largest in the Midwest. In 1914 The Baker-Dodge Theatre Company took over the opera house and renamed it The Grand Theatre, it continued the tradition of bringing the best in Musicals, Stage Plays and even the popular motion pictures of the times. Merle F. Baker, head of The Baker-Dodge company vows to rebuild The Grand.

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment

Subscribe Want to be emailed when a new comment is posted about this theater?
Just login to your account and subscribe to this theater