Princess Theatre

481 W. Main Street,
Mapleton, IA 51034

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The Maple Theatre opened in 1948. The architect was Robert Boller of the Boller Brothers in Kansas City. The design was in an Art Deco style. The theatre listed 295 seats when it opened. The building is still standing but I could not find when it changed to the Princess Theatre, or when it closed, or what occupies the building today.

Contributed by Chuck

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

kdavis on October 26, 2009 at 4:48 pm

Hi, Chuck1231 – I am very interested in your posting from earlier this year, as I am working on a statewide survey of movie theaters for the Iowa SHPO. It contradicts what we’ve found in Mapleton – Can you provide the source of your information so we can reference it in our survey information? Thanks!

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 26, 2009 at 8:50 pm

kdinkcmo: The 1948 year of opening currently given in the intro is wrong. The Maple opened in 1950. Boxoffice Magazine ran a brief item datelined Mapleton in its June 25, 1949, issue which said: “Construction of a 50x100-foot brick building to house the new Mapleton Theatre has begun here. The business is owned by F. W. Kugel of Holstein and will be managed by F. D. ‘Doc’ Naulteus.”

Then the January 7, 1950, issue of Boxoffice had an item saying that the opening of the new Maple Theatre was scheduled for January 10. The first movie was to be “Challenge to Lassie.” Boxoffice said the house had 400 seats, but Boxoffice was frequently a bit off on seating capacity. Their items also had frequent spelling errors (“Doc” Naulteus might have been Nalteus or Nulteus or even Multeus, depending on which issue of Boxoffice you look at.)

I think Chuck probably got the 1948 date from the Boller Brothers Architectural Records (PDF here) which lists the Maple Theatre as a 1948 project. I think the Boller records give the year in which the firm began working on a given project, though, which is often not the year the buildings were completed.

Unless it was replaced at some time between 1928 and 1942, when F.W. Kugel bought it, the original Maple Theatre, closed when the new Maple Theatre opened in 1950, was called the Princess when it was sold to Mrs. Charles Weeks of Ord, Nebraska, by Harry Day in 1928. The information about that sale was reprinted in the “From the Boxoffice Files, Twenty Years Ago” feature in Boxoffice of August 28, 1948. Unless the name Princess was given to the 1950 Maple Theatre at some later date, this page should be renamed Maple Theatre and the aka Princess should go to a new page for the original Maple Theatre, which must have been at a different location.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on October 26, 2009 at 9:28 pm

The earlier Maple Theater is listed in the 1945 Film Daily Yearbook with 350 seats. In 1940 the only theater listed for Mapleton, Iowa is the Orpheum Theater with 350 seats. I wonder if Orpheum is another name for the earlier Maple Theater.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 26, 2009 at 11:32 pm

The Orpheum in Mapleton is mentioned in Boxoffice in December, 1937, and in August and October, 1938. The first item names the operator as Ray Richards, and the last says it is Roy Reichard. I haven’t found either the Maple or the Princess mentioned in any issues from the 1930s.

Orpheum probably is an aka for the Princess/first Maple, though I wouldn’t yet rule out the possibility that the Princess closed and the Orpheum was a different theater that later became the Maple. I doubt that Mapleton was ever large enough to support two theaters at once, though.

KenLayton on April 10, 2011 at 2:21 pm

A tornado destroyed much of downtown Mapleton today according to news reports. Did the theater get damaged?

mcassady on March 8, 2014 at 10:18 pm

Regarding the several comments. As someone who grew up in Mapleton in the late ‘40s and through the ‘50s I can verify that “Doc’s” name was spelled Naulteus, who along with his wife, Laura or “Kitch”, as everyone called her, managed the Maple Theatre. The building in the center of the photo seen at the top with the “Revival” sign is not the old theater but originally built as Burson’s drug store. The old theater (the New Orpheum) was about half a block to the left and out of this photo’s range and closed when the Maple Theatre opened. A local businessman turned the old theater into a hotel erasing all resemblance to a movie theater. The local newspaper, the Mapleton Press (which is digitized and online with a marvelous search capability), has a picture of the new Maple Theatre on the front page of the Jan. 5, 1950 issue (the newspaper staff forgot to change the year to 1950 so the masthead erroneously reads 1949). Years earlier the Press mentioned that the Princess and the Orpheum operated simultaneously for a time in 1936 in a sort of theater war. The Princess apparently used the American Legion hall as its venue.

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