Forest Theatre

215 N. Clark Street,
Forest City, IA 50436

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Forest Theatre (Official)

Additional Info

Previously operated by: Central States Theatres Corp

Functions: Movies (First Run)

Styles: Streamline Moderne

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 641.585.2790

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News About This Theater

Forest Theatre

The Forest Theatre opened in the late-1910’s with seating listed at 455. From the early-1940’s it was operated Central States Theatres. It was destroyed by fire on January 10, 1950.

It was rebuilt and reopened by Central States Theatres, reopening in August 1950 with 559-seats. It was still open in 1955, but had closed by 1956. It has since reopened and is non-profit independently operated.

Contributed by Chuck

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

kencmcintyre on January 19, 2007 at 9:58 am

The theater was severely damaged in a 1950 fire, but obviously was rebuilt:

Most Recent Big Fire 1950 Theatre Blaze

The most spectacular fire in history struck Forest City Jan. 10, 1950. It raged out of control nearly two hours and left only three bare wall of the Forest Theatre standing. Loss to the building and its contents plus the damage to adjacent businesses reached the staggering total of $125,000. Only the heroic efforts of the Forest City Fire department prevented the fire from destroying an entire half block of business buildings. The fire was discovered in the front part of the second floor of the theatre building at 8:40 p.m. The hundred or more persons attending the first show left the theatre in an orderly fashion and no one was injured in the fire.

When the flames had threatened to spread to the Soda Bar building to the north and to Olson Furniture and Lyons to the south, a call for assistance was sent out to Lake Mills, Garner, Clear Lake and Mason City fire departments. The Lake Mills and Garner trucks were the first to report. Clear Lake’s truck froze up near Ventura and was forced to turn back.

Chris1982 on November 14, 2014 at 12:01 pm

The Forest Theatre is open showing current attractions. website

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 14, 2014 at 3:30 pm

A history of Winnebago and Hancock Counties published in 1917 has a brief biography of Forest Secor which says he returned to the town of his birth (his father, Eugene Secor, was the first mayor of Forest City when it incorporated in 1878) in 1916 after having conducted a real estate business in Minnesota for some time, and bought the Forest Theatre.

The “Changes Over Iowa” column of The Moving Picture World, November 3, 1917, had this item:

“Forest City, Ia. — Forest Secor has sold the Forest theater in Forest City to J. P. Weist.”
I don’t know if this item from the February 3 issue of the same publication is about a second theater or if Mr. Secor changed the name of the house he bought after returning in 1916: “FOREST CITY, IA. — Park theater is now being conducted by Secor & Hewitt.”

Forest City had an opera house which the February 26, 1916, issue of The Moving Picture World reported had recently been destroyed by a fire. The 350-seat Forest City Opera House was on a list of theaters published in the September 5, 1908,issue of The Billboard. The Forest Theatre might have been built to replace the opera house after it burned, though in 1912 the MPW had reported on plans for another theater that might have been the house that became the Forest: “Forest City, Ia. — J. M. Simmons will open a motion picture theater here.”

Chris1982 on November 15, 2014 at 2:41 am

Looking at the photo of the current Forest Theatre I would say it was a rebuild after the fire in 1950.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 31, 2020 at 6:10 pm

The recent opening of the new Forest Theater, replacing the burned house, was noted in Boxoffice of September 2, 1950.

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