Rapids Theatre

318 W. Main Street,
Rock Rapids, IA 51246

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Rapids Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Lyon Theatre opened in January 1919 with 750 seats. It also had a ballroom. By the early 1940’s it had been renamed Rapids Theatre, with seating listed at 530. It was operated by Pioneer Theatres during the early 1940’s and then by Berger Amusement Co. until it closed in the late-1970’s.

Used as a restaurant for many years, in 2011, proposals were put forward to renovate and reopen the theatre.

Contributed by Chuck

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

kencmcintyre on December 13, 2008 at 12:37 pm

From Boxoffice magazine, May 1950:

ROCK RAPIDS, IOWA-Gerald J. Smith of Sioux Falls has purchased the Rapids Theater building and business from the Berger Amusement Company of Minneapolis. Purchase price was said to exceed $70,000.

The Rapids was taken over in 1936 by the Pioneer Theater Corp. of Minneapolis. Later it was owned at different times by Sam Karatz of Minneapolis and by Gordon Green, also of Minneapolis. The Berger company purchased the house in 1945. Since 1948, Bernie Pretz and Stan Moyle have managed the theater for the Minneapolis firm. Moyle may stay on awhile for the new owner.

noahsacramento on February 23, 2010 at 9:21 am

Stan Moyle was my grandad. Crazy to see this.

Dengler on February 29, 2012 at 11:57 pm

The Rapids Theater, originally the Lyon Theater, opened in January of 1919 as vaudeville and silent screen picture house. It was built by a local successful farmer rancher who had had the desire to bring the magic of stage and cinema to the area. It was built for $15,000 and sat 750. A ballroom dominated the full length of the 3rd floor with its own balcony and orchestra loft. It was hot spot for local dances well through era of the Charleston and through the era Big Band Swing and into early Rock n Roll. The Theater closed as a picture house in the late 70’s and various attempts were made to revive the picture house but the industry was too weak in rural America. A furniture store and community theatre occupied the space until the mid 90’s when it was retro-fitted into a restaurant and survived in different incarnations of a fine-dining establishment until 2008 when it closed its doors seemingly for good. Struggling under bankruptcy, crippling leans, an aging roof raining throughout the building, and a structure in disrepair with 50% of it unused and un-maintained for nearly 50 years; hope was in short supply. But out of the crumbling plaster, dripping ceilings, and shadowy recesses community members were discovering a passion for the past and a vision and dream to revive a community and re-light the lamps of a glorious past and illuminate a future full of potential, music, movement and hope. In 2011, a non-profit society formed for the preservation of this cultural and historical gem. The Rapids Theatre Preservation Society purchased the property and through the community’s efforts and generosity have begun extensive renovations to reopen the theatre as a community event center and performing arts hall. Plans potentially include a coffee house, restoration and reopening the 3rd floor ballroom, updating the theatre arts equipment, and updating the film equipment to allow for second showing movies on weekends and special events. Get involved and learn more on Facebook with the Rapids Theatre Preservation Society.

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