Beaver Theater

2706 Beaver Avenue,
Des Moines, IA 50310

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Beaver Theater

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Opened as the Gem Theater in 1936, the Beaver Theater closed in 1957.

Contributed by Lost Memory

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

Chris1982
Chris1982 on November 12, 2014 at 11:18 pm

The Beaver started its career as the Gem in 1936, then took its neighborhood namesake in 1936, running as such until its closure in 1957

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 13, 2014 at 11:56 am

A history of the Acanthus Lodge of Masons has this to say about the building the Gem Theatre occupied:

“…a building was erected at 2706-2708 Beaver Avenue by Dr. L. H. Chamberlain, with Acanthus Lodge assuming a ten year lease on the entire second floor. The plans for this floor were in accordance with the requirements of the lodge. It was not until 1935 that the building was completed and the lodge was able to move. On March 4, 1935, the new hall was opened at 3:00 o’clock in the afternoon for a public reception.”
However, this item appeared in the Iowa “Changes in Ownership” column in the May 27, 1930, issue of The Film Daily: “Des Moines—Gem, sold to L. H. Chamberlain by Roy Jones.”

Chamberlain’s name appears in two items in The Film Daily in 1931, too, both saying that he was planning to build a $50,000 theater in Des Moines. I Haven’t found any later items about that project, so I don’t know if it was carried out. It’s possible that he had to put the project on hold until the economy improved, and that it was this house.

It’s also possible that the history of the Masonic Lodge, which has a 2013 copyright date, was mistaken about the building on Beaver Avenue having been entirely new in 1935, and that it was the Gem Theatre Chamberlain bought in 1930 rebuilt to accommodate the second floor lodge hall. The Acanthus Lodge moved to a new building in 1950, and the details of what happened in 1935 might have gotten muddled.

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