Grand Theatre

331 E. Main Street,
Ottumwa, IA 52501

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The Grand Opera House was built from 1890-91 at a cost of $50,000. It opened as the Grand Theatre on October 1, 1931, continuing a policy of musical stage productions and an occasional movie. Advertisements in the Ottumwa Daily Courier show it had movies as early as 1912 and in March 1916 gave Ottumwa a six-day run of “Birth of a Nation".

The 1931 renovations included a sloped floor and other structural alterations, the removal of excess ornamentation, and a canopy with changeable letters. Operated by A.H. Blank, Film Daily Year Book 1934 lists the Grand Theatre with 750 seats.

On October 14, 1933, A.H. Blank’s Central States Theatres officially opened the Grand Theatre as a movie theatre with Bing Crosby in “Too Much Harmony".

The Grand Theatre was closed in March 21, 1936 and in April Tri-State Theatres said they had no plans to reopen.

In February 1938 the roof of the auditorium collapsed but it wasn’t until May 1940 that plans were announced to cut the three-story building to one and construct shops. On August 24, 1940, a photograph of the renovated building, designed by Wetherell and Harrison, appeared in the Courier. That photo is nearly identical to the building on the corner of E. Main Street and Jefferson Street today.

Contributed by Ron Pierce
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