Esquire Theatre

406 W. 3rd Street,
Davenport, IA 52801

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Grand Entrance (1957)

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The Columbia Theatre was built in 1913 and was a vaudeville/live theatre, an early project from the architectural firm of Rapp & Rapp. It had a seating capacity of 1,800.

Eventually going over to movies, the 1941 & 1943 editions of Film Daily Yearbook list it as ‘Closed’. This was because it had been converted into a movie theatre known as the Esquire Theatre in 1939 with a reduced seating capacity of 834, all on a single level. The architects for the Art Deco style conversion were Wetherell & Harrison. Interior decorations were by Hanns Teichert.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on May 4, 2007 at 9:19 pm

This website claims the following:

Columbia Theater
406 W Third St Davenport IA
Demolished: 1967
Also Known As: Esquire
Originally a vaudeville house, the Columbia was extensively remodeled into a movie house in 1940.
The building was demolished in 1967 to make way for a parking lot for the Kahl Building across the street, which houses the Capitol Theatre.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on May 5, 2007 at 8:28 am

Lost Memory;Thanks for the additional information.
The 1941 edition of Film Daily Yearbook lists the Esquire Theatre with 834 seats (the Columbia Theatre is listed as ‘Closed’ with 1,800 seats). It seems like the re-model into a movie theatre gave a reduced seating capacity. However in the 1950 edition of Film Daily Yearbook the address of the Esquire is 408 W. 3rd Street and seating is given as 300 (which I would say must be a mis-print)

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on May 5, 2007 at 2:04 pm

Maybe the seat reduction from 1800 to 834 isn’t too unusual for some theaters. The State Historical Society of Iowa claims that the Capitol Theater opened in 1920 with 2500 seats and today it has a little less then 1600 seats. Almost the same reduction in seats as this theater.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on August 30, 2007 at 1:21 am

A Kimball theater organ was installed in the Columbia Theater in 1926.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 22, 2009 at 3:27 am

An article about the Esquire Theatre appeared in the December 9, 1939, issue of Boxoffice Magazine. The article includes some information about the Columbia as well.

The Columbia opened on Christmas Day, 1913, with 1000 seats. The article says that the Esquire was built “within the walls” of the Columbia, as a single-floor theater. The Columbia had seated only about 600 in the orchestra and 400 in the balcony, so getting the Esquire’s 835 seats onto one floor necessitated the removal of most of the Columbia’s stage. The roof was lowered as well, but the auditorium still had a fairly high ceiling.

The new theater was thoroughly Moderne in style, with just a lingering hint of Art Deco in some of the details. The Esquire was designed by the Des Moines architectural firm Wetherell & Harrison.

Tinseltoes on September 3, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Modernization of Columbia into Equire described in this 1939 trade article, as cited above by Joe Vogel: Boxoffice

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 26, 2013 at 6:11 am

Volume 2 of The Papers of Will Rogers, edited by Steven K. Gragert and M. Jane Johansson, says that the Columbia Theatre was originally a two-a-day vaudeville house on the Orpheum circuit.

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