Ruthven Theater

216 Main Street,
Ruthven, IA 51358

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The Ruthven Theater was badly damaged by a fire in February 1949 that destroyed the interior of the building and all of the theater equipment. After extensive renovation, the theater reopened in June 1949.

The 1950 edition of Film Daily Yearbook lists the theatre under Palo Alto Theater & Ruthven Theater, each with the same seating capacity.

Contributed by Ken McIntyre

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

LouisRugani on August 27, 2010 at 3:15 pm

(September 8, 1960)
Vacant Theatre Burns at Ruthven
The interior of the vacant theatre at Ruthven was gutted by fire Aug. 28. A similar fire damaged the building two years ago. The property was owned by Mrs. Viola Wagner and had been sold to out-of-town buyers who had been dismantling the equipment on Saturday.

LouisRugani on August 27, 2010 at 3:18 pm

(May 3, 1947)
Ruthven Theater Is Destroyed by Fire; Loss $10,000

Fire destroyed the Ruthven theater yesterday, with loss estimated at $10,000. Origin of the blaze was not determined immediately although it was believed the fire started after an explosion. The building was insured, but not the furnishings or equipment. The theater was owned by Lyle Nolan.

LouisRugani on August 27, 2010 at 3:25 pm

(May 20, 1949)
Ruthven, Ia.â€"(AP)â€"The Palo Alto theater in Ruthven was destroyed by fire Saturday afternoon. Preliminary estimates placed the loss at $20,000 to $30,000.
The fire broke out while the theater was closed and there were no reports of any injuries.
The theater was opened last summer following its erection to replace the Legion theater which burned down about two years ago.
Witnesses said the fire was discovered when a huge cloud of oily smoke billowed out the back of the structure. Altho the cause had not been determined it was believed the heavy smoke came from the oil-burning furnace. All of the interior of the structure was destroyed and the concrete block and steel roof exterior was still standing.
A large crowd gathered to watch firemen fight the blaze. The theater is owned by W. R. Arndt.

LouisRugani on August 27, 2010 at 3:29 pm

(November 28, 1957)
Ruthven Theater Gutted By Fire

The Palo Alto theatre in Ruthven was gutted by fire on Thursday night, Nov. 14th. The building was made of quonset ateel and is owned by Mrs. Viola Arndt. The Ruthven Free Press states “that it seems theatres are destined to burn in Ruthven. This being the fourth time in the last ten or twelve ysars.‘’

LouisRugani on August 27, 2010 at 3:36 pm

(February 21, 1949)
Fire Demolishes Ruthven Theater

Ruthven, Ia. â€" (&)â€" Five destroyed the Palo Alto theater here Saturday, causing damage estimated at $20,000 to $30,000. The fire broke out while the heater was closed and there were 10 injuries reported. The theater, a quonset structure, opened last summer to replace the Legion theater which burned down about two years ago.

LouisRugani on August 27, 2010 at 3:40 pm

(July 30, 1936)
Ruthven Theatre Damaged

Last Sunday evening fire of an unknown origin damaged the Electric theatre at Ruthven to such an extent that it could not be used until rehabilitated. The fire broke out on the roof and more than an hour’s time was taken in controlling the blaze.

LouisRugani on August 27, 2010 at 3:44 pm

(July 9, 1936)
Legion Theatre Closed For Lack of Support

The Legion theatre which has been under the management of Lyle Nolan for the past two years closed last Saturday night. Lack of proper support is the reason given for the closing of the Ruthven theatre. The equipment in the Legion theatre is reported to be better than some county seat towns.
Mr. Nolan had the reputation of giving the public many of the latest and best motion picture productions. He has not as yet announced any plans for the future.

LouisRugani on August 27, 2010 at 3:48 pm

(January 30, 1936)
Ruthven Theatre Screen Broken

The Ruthven Free Press reports that a $275 motion picture screen at the theatre at that place, was broken recently. The screen had been moved to the rear of the stage to permit its use for a home talent play. Parties who were replacing the screen let a step ladder fall against it and a large portion was broken out of the center of the screen.

LouisRugani on August 27, 2010 at 4:14 pm

(February 4, 1937)
Legion Theater Opens at Ruthven

Tuesday afternoon and night marked the opening of the American Legion theater which has been completely rebuilt following the fire last July. Since that time Ruthven has been without a show house. L. W. Nolan, who operated the establishment for two and one half years, has again leased the building and will have a show each night.
The members of Ruthven Post No. 33 of the American Legion sold tickets for the opening date at $1.00 each. The proceeds from the ticket sale will be added to the building fund. Besides the evening shows and matinee, there is a free show at 4:15 for all children up to high school age.
The new theater has an auditorium 56x25 feet, a lobby and a foyer. The interior of the building is finished in Nu-wood, hand carved in artistic design. Each side has a mural 12x35 feet painted by a Chicago artist. The lights have rainbow fixtures, which give forty different light combinations.
There are 25O seats of the air lock, springed type, each having 16 springs. They are fully upholstered in red leather and plush.
The screen is a Gardner gold fiber. The Shear system of speakers will he used for sound and the sound will be controlled from the auditorium.

LouisRugani on August 31, 2010 at 4:03 pm

(Ruthven Free Press, February 11, 1948)
Will Build Theater Building on Lot Donated by Chamber of Commerce

The site of the former theatre in Ruthven has been turned over to W. R. Arndt, who has agreed to put up and operate a theater. The Chamber of Commerce purchased this lot some weeks ago with the intention of giving it to someone who would build a theatre building.
Plans for the new building call for a 40 by 80 foot all-steel building with a maroon porcelain front. The main entrance will be located in the middle of the front of the building, and the interior will be of sufficient size to accommodate 323 seats. Work on the new theatre building will start as soon as some of the construction material arrives.
The old theater building in Ruthven was destroyed by fire early last May, and the town has been without moving pictures since then, except for several weeks during the summer when shows were held at the school gymnasium.

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