Mars Theater

400 Main Street,
La Porte City, IA 50651

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This theatre started life as a grocery store. In the l940’s, the wooden floor was sloped, and the rest of the building was remodeled to turn it into a neat little 300 seat movie house. It was named the Mars, after it’s owner, Marvin Fosse. Usually playing three different sets of programs during any given week, the Mars was austere (like it’s predecessor, the Pastime), but it was the center of small town life on Friday and Saturday nights well into the very early 50’s.

When local TV came upon the scene, and because the theatre could not book pictures anywhere near their release date (along with the fact that many of its potential patrons travelled 15 miles to the Big City of Waterloo and its Paramount Theater), business began to decline and the theatre started closing on selected weekdays.

In the mid to late 50’s, the theatre was closed. It later was reopened on weekends and operated at various times by Terry Philpott and/or Mike Geater, (who installed it’s first CinemaScope screen) either individually or in partnership. Sadly, by the early 60’s, the handwriting was on the wall and the theatre was once again turned into a (short-lived) grocery store. It is now a furniture store.

Contributed by Mike Geater

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

MikeGeater
MikeGeater on November 8, 2001 at 11:41 am

This theatre started life as a grocery store. In the 1940’s, the wooden floor was sloped, and the rest of the building was remodeled to turn it into a neat “little” 300 seat theatre. It was named the Mars, after it’s owner, Marvin Fosse. It usually featured three show changes in any given week. The Mars was never any kind of a movie palace but it (like it’s predecessor the Pastime) was the center of small town life on Friday and Saturday nights into the very early 50’s. When local TV came upon the scene, and because the theatre could not book pictures anywhere near their release date, and with many of it’s potential patrons traveling 15 miles to the “big city” of Waterloo to see their movies new, many in the Paramount (movie palace), business began to decline and the theatre started closing on selected weekdays. In the mid to late 50’s, the theatre was closed. It later was reopened on weekends and operated at various times by Terry Philpott and/or Mike Geater. (who installed it’s first Cinemascope screen). But by the early 60’s the handwriting was on the wall and the theatre was once again closed and returned to it’s roots as a (short-lived) grocery store. It is now a furniture store.

William
William on December 5, 2003 at 9:47 am

The Mars Theatre was located at 400 Main Street and it seated 332 people.

pfosse
pfosse on January 25, 2008 at 1:19 pm

I thought it was named Mars after the planet, not Marvin. I should ask my mom (Shirley) and she would probably know (although she didn’t marry Marvin till 1951).

Paul Fosse (Son of Marvin Fosse)

pfosse
pfosse on March 12, 2010 at 8:02 am

I got this from Shirley Fosse (Marvin’s Wife, my mom):

Neither. His first cousin’s wife, Claire, Howard’s mother, worked for the Mars candy company in Minneapolis before she and Ogden married.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on June 8, 2012 at 11:48 am

Thanks Mike, TV certainly killed alot of small town Theatres and that is too bad when one sees what TV has become.

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