Story Theatre/Grand Opera House
512 Broad Street,
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First built in 1913, the Story Theatre/Grand Opera House featured vaudeville and silents until stage shows fazed out in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Movies dominated the theater from then on, alongside with school graduations and plays presented through the 1930’s.
The theater has never closed and has only had 13 proprietors in its history. In fact, it has earned the distinction of being the oldest continually running theater in Iowa. Even the theater’s decor has not changed in over 50 years. Some of its original seats can still be found in the balcony.
The theater’s stage was closed in the 1940’s, but resurrected in 1988 for the theater’s 75th anniversary. Now the stage is used a few times a year by the local theatrical troupe and movies are shown nearly every weekend of the year.
Movies went to a Friday, Saturday, Sunday schedule back in the early-1970’s. Richard and Virgil Peterson, brothers, ran the theater, together with their parents, from 1946 to 1984. And the entire time, the brothers and family lived in an upstairs apartment at the theater.
The Story Theatre/Grand Opera House is part of the Grand Hotel block, named for the recently refurbished hotel which has become home to offices for the local city government. The theater and hotel block were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.
The current owner of the theater is Todd Thorson.
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