Fox Theater

831 Avenue G,
Fort Madison, IA 52627

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Fox©...Fort Madison Iowa

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The Strand Theater was opened on July 1, 1919. By the early-1930’s it was another Fox owned and operated theater. Seating was listed at 816. It was a bit larger than its sister theater across and down the street (Orpheum Theater).

Closed in 1955, it was later re-named Fox Theater. It closed in June 2008, but was re-opened in April 2009. It had closed again by May 2010.

Contributed by Chuck

Recent comments (view all 15 comments)

photod1
photod1 on June 11, 2010 at 9:02 pm

We have had the Fox Theater open for the past 15 months. We have owned the Fox for the past 7 years. After supporting the Fox for those many years without any outside financial support we finally realized it is time for a change. For the Fox to be the “lynchpin” you reference, the community needs to step in and help. A non-profit 501-C3 organization line the Main Street group would be a option. If you would like to know what is really happening with the Fox, please ask.

Larry Wright

ChiBob
ChiBob on July 8, 2010 at 9:06 pm

It might be impossible for a theater this size to show films continuously in a town the size of Fort Madison and still be able to stay open. Down the road in Keokuk their old theater has multi purpose use – plays, conventions, etc. There is no reason why the Fox could not be used this way, with maybe two or three films per month, but only if there is deep community involvement. Since the state prison is about a half mile away, a re-opening of the theater with a mini prison film festival might draw in the curiosity seekers and give the venue a grand re-opening.

JudithK
JudithK on July 17, 2011 at 12:19 pm

My Mom lived in Fort Madison, Iowa during the 1940’s-early 1950’s. An avid moviegoer, she mentioned the Strand frequently. It appeared to be her movie theatre of choice. Thanks for the information about it.

photod1
photod1 on November 11, 2011 at 10:37 pm

With the support of Fort Madison Main Street and Main Street Iowa, we have received a grant and we will start restoration of the marquee in the spring of 2012. In addition we will be doing additional roof repairs.

Thanks to all for your continued interest in the Fox Theater.

If you are interested in seeing the Fox inside and out, please feel free to look at an electronic tour that I have built by using the attached link.

http://home.earthlink.net/~photod1/Fox/index.html

Larry Wright

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 28, 2011 at 2:49 am

The monthly Stone & Webster Journal had the following item in the Fort Madison section of its July, 1919 issue:

“The new moving picture theater called the ‘Strand’ was formally opened on July 1st. This new theater is modern in every respect and is reported to be one of the finest picture houses west of Chicago, having a seating capacity of nearly 1,000.”
The August 11, 1928, issue of Motion Picture Times published remarks from the manager and publicity director of the Strand and Orpheum Theatres in Fort Madison, accompanied by a small photo of the entrance to the Strand looking as though it had been decorated to publicize a particular movie.

photod1
photod1 on December 29, 2011 at 7:46 am

Joe, thanks for the information. I will add that to all of the history materials that we have for the Strand/Fox.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 8, 2012 at 10:20 am

The article Tinseltoes linked to has the name of the architect for the conversion of the Strand into the Fox, but the scan doesn’t show a few letters at the beginning of each line in the left column of the page, so the architect’s surname is missing. He was Samuel W. (something short) Jr..

I’m thinking it must have been Samuel W. Bihr, Jr., who was a contract architect for Fox Midwest in the early 1950s, designing everything from minor remodeling jobs to entirely new theaters. His designs of the period were typically transitional Streamline Modern/Midcentury Modern, which fits the Fort Madison Fox.

Robert Allen
Robert Allen on February 12, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Probably the worst thing they did was twinning the thing. But I believe it could be successful as a twin. It all depends on how it’s booked. I don’t think live performances would work. Thw auditoriums are now too small and it does not appear to have fly screens.

photod1
photod1 on December 12, 2013 at 6:32 pm

Currently considering going back to one screen. Still working on keeping the building solid and sound. New roof project completed this summer. For those of you that still show an interest in the Fox, THANKS!

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