Park 70 Theatre

16 N. Washington Avenue,
Mason City, IA 50401

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Park 70 Theatre

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The Cecil Theatre opened in the mid-1920’s with seating listed at 859. This was the larger of the seven theatres that were located in the downtown section of Mason City. The theatre was adjacent to the Eadmar Hotel, and was owned by the Cerro Gordo Hotel Company in the 1980’s. Prior to that time Central States Theatres operated the theatre.

70mm Todd-AO projection was installed on August 10, 1966 and by 1986, it was known as the Park 70 Theatre. In its later years it operated as an adult theatre. The theatre was abandoned for some time before it collapsed in 1988.

Contributed by Chuck

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on January 20, 2007 at 3:09 pm

Meredith Willson who wrote the musical plays and movies The Music Man and The Unsinkable Molly Brown was a native of Mason City. When the movie The Music Man, with Robert Preston, Shirley Jones and eight year old Ron (Ronnie) Howard had it’s world premier on June 19, 1962, it was in Mason City. Anyone know what theatre held the world premier?

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on October 26, 2007 at 7:30 pm

This postcard shows the Cecil Hotel and Theater, but in the early 1900s. Perhaps there was a predecessor:
http://tinyurl.com/36jxqj

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on March 11, 2009 at 6:53 pm

Here is part of a June 6, 1936 article in the Mason City Globe-Gazette:

Between $35,000 and $38,000 will be spent in the Cecil Theater remodeling program which is to include the installation of a complete air conditioning system, new seats, new carpets and other equipment. With the theater closing Friday night, workmen who had started the improvement project began a general renovation of the building.

Here to go over plans with Tom Arthur, manager, was M. N. Blank of the Central States Theaters, Inc. Regarded as the most important of the new equipment, which is to make the Cecil theater as modern as any showhouse in the state, is the installation of the cooling system under the direction of Bert Natkin of Natkin and company, Des Moines, Iowa representative for Westinghouse Air Conditioning.

Other improvements include gold, black and green terra cotta front, new carpets throughout the building and additional lounge rooms. A new terrazzo floor will be laid in the lobby. A new type of large and more comfortable seats will be installed.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 28, 2009 at 11:19 pm

The September 26, 1966, issue of Boxoffice Magazine said that the Cecil Theatre was being remodeled by Vince Jorgensen, and would be renamed the Park 70 Theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 13, 2009 at 11:58 pm

The April 16, 1955, issue of Boxoffice Magazine published the obituary of Tom Arthur. Mr. Arthur arrived in Mason City in 1904 and took over management oft he Wilson Theatre. After the house burned in 1911 and the Cecil was built on its site, he continued to manage the new theater until his death.

rivest266
rivest266 on July 23, 2012 at 4:40 pm

28 Aug 1970 page 22 of LIFE has a 4-page article about this theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 23, 2012 at 5:10 pm

Direct link to the issue of Life rivest266 cites. Thank goodness Mason City was protected from porn! (Or not.)

DenWeb
DenWeb on July 13, 2013 at 8:18 am

I worked at the Cecil Theater from 1957 to 1959 as a ticket taker, floor mopper, supervisor of the theater for inappropriate behavior (wielding my trusty flashlight), and updater of movie posters and the front marquee. My uniform was a maroon jacket, white shirt, bow tie and black slacks.
It was an interesting place to work. Ben Hur was the last stage production and the set was still backstage behind the movie screen, including the treadmill the horses ran on. The old dressing rooms with the star on the door were also there. There were box seats which were no longer used, and three balconies (the top one closed for safety).
I don’t remember the manager’s name (Harvey, I think), but he lived on my old paper route, I believe on 3rd St. S.W. Mrs. Arthur took over as owner after her husband passed away in 1955. I remember her as a grouchy, finicky old lady who lived upstairs and was a Hollywood celebrity wanna-be type. There were many times when she would dress to the 9’s, complete with diamond jewelry and mink stole for the local upper-crust festivities. On such occasions, she would often have me drive her brand new white Cadillac from its parking spot behind the theater around to the front. Her final directive was always “And don’t hit the curb with my white sidewalls!” I only did once that I can remember.
I seem to remember starting at 35 cents an hour and worked my way all the way up to 45 cents by the time I left for a better job at the Piggly Wiggly grocery store on 12th street. They paid 75 cents an hour.

paulnelson
paulnelson on November 17, 2014 at 4:56 pm

Beautiful old hotel and theatre in the post card picture. Must have been Mason City finest.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 18, 2014 at 5:32 pm

Liebenberg & Kaplan were the architects for the 1936 remodeling of the Cecil Theatre that kencmcintyre referred to in his comment on March 11, 2009.

Another major remodeling took place in 1953, when the open windows between the foyer and the auditorium were closed in, and the lobby, foyer, stairs, lounges, rest rooms, and office were all given a modern makeover. According to articles in the Mason City Globe-Gazette, the auditorium had been restored and repainted, but that in style and configuration it was still substantially as it had been when the house opened in 1912. Even the boxes were still intact.

The 1953 renovations coincided with Mason City’s centennial, and with the fiftieth anniversary of manager Thomas Arthur’s arrival in town to take over management of the Cecil’s predecessor, the Wilson Theatre.

The Cecil Theatre is listed in the 1913-1914 Cahn guide with 595 seats on the main floor, 410 in the balcony, 360 in the gallery, and 36 in the boxes. It was slightly larger than the Wilson Theatre had been.

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