Capri V Theatre

229 East Main Street,
Ottumwa, IA 52501

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DRum on January 5, 2017 at 6:08 pm

When the original theatre burned, Myron Blank son of A.H. Blank was in charge of building the new theatre which was quite a challenge due to all the shortages during WW II.

MiltonSmith on December 10, 2012 at 9:51 pm

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.

MiltonSmith on March 16, 2012 at 11:22 pm

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.

MiltonSmith on March 16, 2012 at 1:44 pm

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.

MasterLong on January 18, 2012 at 11:47 pm

It is sad to see structures that have mad an impression on our lives closed and forgotten. I made Ottumwa my home for 10 years and had seen the larger companies come in and benefit from the neglect towards the smaller, older businesses. With that came the new theater…. nothing wrong with that but it is a box with no character or class. Plus it is no different then any other theater. Now this brings forth an opportunity for something with charisma and style. I am pursuing reopening the old Capri into an Experience. Dine in, bar, music, theater, and dancing within facility. I am seeking other visionaries to make this a reality. reply to

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 28, 2011 at 10:37 am

The Ottumwa Theatre built on this site in 1941 to replace the earlier Ottumwa Theatre, which had been destroyed by a fire, was designed by the Des Moines architectural firm Wetherell & Harrison. There is a photo of the theater in this PDF of two forms the firm submitted to the AIA in the 1940s. The photo, which also shows part of the adjacent Capitol Theatre, is about 2/5 of the way down the unpaginated document.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 12, 2011 at 5:15 am

There’s a mistake in the last paragraph of my previous comment: The photo caption I mentioned that has the names of the other three theaters on the block belongs to the ca.1927 photo from the book “Ottumwa,” not to a 1942 photo.

As the Capitol was eventually incorporated into the Capri V, it might make sense to have Capitol Theatre listed as an aka, even though the Capitol had a long history as a separate house with its own address, and has its own page at Cinema Treasures. On the other hand, the information is already included in the description of the theater, and as the Capitol does have its own page I don’t think it’s essential for the name to be listed as an aka. Having aka’s listed facilitates searches of the site, but the Capitol’s own page will be easy enough to find.

The aka’s that should definitely be listed for this house are Ottumwa Theatre and Capri Theatre. As late as 1985 (see the American Classic Images photo from that year to which Chuck linked above) the Capri was still operating as a single-screen house under that name.

I’ve been unable to discover exactly when the two theaters were combined and remodeled into the five-screen Capri V. I’ve searched Boxoffice Magazine’s archive, but it contains surprisingly few items about Ottumwa, and I’ve found no items at all about either the Capri or the Capri V.

I’m not sure if the name Square Theatre should be an aka or not. Though it’s not absolutely certain, I think that the original Square Theatre building on the Capri’s site was probably completely demolished after the 1941 fire. Maybe, like the Capitol, it should have its own page, though there wouldn’t be much information to put on it.

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on January 11, 2011 at 1:17 pm



1 (Capri 4 cinemas) + 1 Capital = Capri V (5)

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on January 11, 2011 at 12:03 pm




Open ~1935-~2005? Can anyone verify the exact dates?

Ottumwa Theater ~1935-~1964?

Capri Theater ~1964-~early 80’s?

Capri V ~early 80’s-~2005? The Capri was made into 4 cinemas and was combined with the next door Capital Theater. Can anyone verify these dates?

Had 1000 seats before being made into 4 theaters.


1945 A.H. Blank Theater Controlled by Paramount Publix

1955-1964 Central States Theaters

More info abd more photos are always welcome.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 11, 2011 at 5:40 am

Here is a page for a CafePress store which sells objects with old photos and memorabilia on them. There are a couple of photos of the Capri, including one from 1942 when the house was called the Ottumwa Theatre (theater pictures are in rows four and five.)

Another old photo, in the Arcadia Publishing Company’s book Ottumwa, shows a theater called the Square in the location of the Capri. Another page of the book says that the Ottumwa Theatre was destroyed by fire in 1941, so the 1942 Ottumwa which later became the Capri must have been an entirely or substantially new building.

The caption of the 1942 photo says that the same block of Main Street with the Capitol and Ottumwa theaters then also had theaters called the Rialto, the Empire, and the Strand.

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on January 10, 2011 at 12:13 pm

From 2010 a photo of the Capri Theatre building in Ottumwa.

MiltonSmith on February 19, 2010 at 5:37 pm

Actually, I have some pics of the Zephyr, but there are also pics of the Capitol/Capri further down and are labeled as such.

shoeshoe14 on November 24, 2009 at 2:21 am

The marquee is visible in the background in The King of Kong (2007), in the opening scene on Main Street with Life Magazine. The marquee has a yellow backdrop.

OTMNative on September 26, 2009 at 12:28 pm

The Capitol Theatre did indeed start out life as an hotel, with a Moose Lodge at the very top. The rooms were still intact up until the conversion in the late 80’s. The Capri Theatre, set in one over, started life as a beautiful stage theatre. The screen was dropped over the stage. The dressing rooms for actors were accessible right under the stage. The orchestra pit was filled in to accommodate more seating.
The two buildings shared street space with two small shops. The shop between the Capri and Capital was destroyed when the conversion took place. The second is still in use today and houses a leather smith, I believe. The theatres are connected above the street level by a staircase. Each room in the hotel, in the Capitol, was still numbered, had high ceilings and dormers. Each floor had its own “washroom”. In the 80’s the roof and floors were already giving way to decay and neglect.
Nothing was more devastating than watching that gorgeous stage theatre being ripped and torn into pieces, making four smaller screens available. The Capri was one of the last theatres in Iowa to boast a balcony. The only other was one in Mason City.
As with most of the wonderful and rich history of our city, it sits, abandoned and falling apart, until someone determines it is useless and destroys it. It’s analogous to our societies’ view on the aged. Why fix up, maintain, and treasure our past when you can tear down and rebuild? Or better yet, how about another parking lot!
It was truly sad what happened to the Capri and Capitol theatres. I fear it will share the same fate as the beautiful, and now gone forever, Ballingal Hotel.

MiltonSmith on July 15, 2008 at 7:03 pm

I have some pics I took in July 2008 of this theater located here.

I also found a pic from another site that has a picture of the theater from 1982 in the background when it was 2 theaters. The Capitol and the Capri. The pic can be seen here.

View link

MiltonSmith on February 15, 2007 at 7:50 pm

I lived in Ottumwa for about a year or so and my girlfriend grew up there. From what she has told me. It was a 2 screen theatre, but then they chopped the huge theatre into 4 pieces with the side theatre left alone. I only saw movies there a couple times and the place looked like it was very neglected, run-down. I would suspect, the way Ottumwa is, that the theatre will sit there empty for years, like many other buildings downtown.

There is another building nearby, perhaps that was the theatre known as the Zephyr? Its white in front, looked very ornate,last I knew it was converted into a bar.

There is a new performance space that was built in the last couple years by the river where the old Armory stood. The Armory was used for years for stage performances and such.

Ydaltrams on December 28, 2006 at 9:15 am

Hello from Ottumwa,
Just wanted to add a few things. The Capri V theatre in Ottumwa,IA began life a a grand hotel. Later in life it became two different theatres. The theatre on the corner was the Capitol theatre and was originally the grand ballroom. I loved that theatre as a kid because it had a balcony and we always felt so important being able to sit up there! The theatre right next door but really in the same building was the Capri Theatre and had only one screen. Then in the early 80’s both theatres were purchase by the same company. They were remodeled and became the Capri V theatre.
Years ago, as a teen ager I had friends who worked in that theatre and late at night when the cleaning crews were busy we would go on tours of the old hotel rooms. We saw lots of really old movie posters, stand ups and other stuff. Many time the original wallpaper and other decor was still in place sans the furniture. We had to take flashlights since their was no electricity to the back areas of this hotel.
About a year ago, the old theatre was closed and the new one opened out near the mall. It is now the Ottumwa Super 8 Theatre.
The old theatre will be missed…..

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on October 27, 2006 at 8:20 am

Livin_in_Iowa, any chance you can answer Bryan Krefft’s comment about the Zephyr Theatre in Ottumwa (if the Masonic Lodge is in the theatre or a new building)?

Bob Jensen

LivininIowa on October 26, 2006 at 5:16 pm

In the aerial photo, number one is the new Ottumwa 8 theater NOT the Capri V! The Capri V is located about a mile away in the heart of the historic dowtown section. There are several small shops and businesses located around it. This theater (I beleive) was made from an old motel or apartment building. It opened in the mid to late fifties. Each of the auditoriums had an arched celing with exposed metal roof rafters. Very unique! Under each screen was a red sign that would be snapped on informing guests that the snack bar would be closing in five minutes. The seats were the old metal type with rounded backs. One had to use caution when sitting down lest receiving a sharp jab in the posterior by a seat spring! Unfortunetly, towards the end, the theater had been neglected to the point where it wasn’t enjoyable to watch a movie in there anymore (forget about using the restrooms!) When my wife and I were dating, there were many memorable Friday or Saturday nights spent there. We hated to see it close. I’ll post any updates I hear about what will become of it.

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on October 8, 2006 at 8:39 am

Lost Memory: That’s the photos, it was really bothering me where I had seen them. I forgot to look on Cinematour.


Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on October 8, 2006 at 5:50 am

Lost Memory: I don’t think so. I found some photos of the Capri V on the internet sometime in the past (of course I can’t find them now) but it looked like it was in some old buildings downtown. The front of the buildings had been covered with some false front, but the side of the building still showed the old brick. I printed the photo you mentioned and I know Number 1 is the Capri V, but Number 4 is Applebees. Up above I mention the marquee read: NEW OTTUMWA 8 OPEN ACROSS FROM APPLEBEES, so I think that’s really the Ottumwa 8! My guess is someone in Beachwood, Ohio with Developers Diversified Realty made the map and got things messed up. I think their real interest is in the yellow area, which I guess is what they own?

Anyone in Ottumwa who can let us know what’s going on here?