World Theatre

314 Third Avenue SE,
Cedar Rapids, IA 52401

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July 2011

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Strand Theatre opened Oct. 18, 1915. Seating capacity was 1,500. It was the first theater in Cedar Rapids with a cantilevered single balcony (previously theaters had multiple shallow balconies, with posts supporting them and blocking views). It was decorated in ivory and old rose and had twelve loge boxes and a fancy mural over the proscenium sounding board.

The theater opened as a legitimate theater with a stock acting troupe. The management of the theater hedged its' bet, by installing a photo player. A year later the actors were gone and movies and vaudeville were in.

In 1930 the theater was taken over by the Publix chain and renamed the State. In 1958 it was again modernized and fitted for Cinemascope, and renamed the World, opening with “Ben Hur”. Closed in 1981, it sat vacant until 1999 when a church occupied the theater which had been partially renovated into retail space.

A temporary drop ceiling was installed from the front edge of the balcony to the proscenium, and then again on the stage area. This effectively makes a one story area, new HVAC was installed for this main floor. The slope was also removed from the main floor, raising the level at the stage by 5 feet.

In 2003 a teen nightclub and performance venue called the Nexus opened, which has since been closed.

I have toured the balcony area and severe, but repairable damage has been done. The opera boxes flanking the proscenium were hacked off in the 1930s remodeling. During the same remodeling, planking was used to cover the walls of the balcony. Recently, that planking has begun to fall off of the walls reveling the original paint scheme and stenciling, all in surprisingly good shape.

The 1915 lightboard is still backstage and remnants of the old sandbag fly system are still backstage as well.

More photos of this and other Cedar Rapids theatres can be viewed on my website www.jeffkorns.com

Contributed by Jeff Korns

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

Jakorns
Jakorns on January 15, 2006 at 7:08 pm

After the Strand (World) changed to the State theatre in 1930 the former Olympic theatre at 5101 16th Ave SW became the Strand.

The theatre is gutted now. The bank that owns the building kicked out the night club and a non profit group wants to turn it into an ethnic diversity center (the bank prez’s wife heads the group). They haven’t figured out what to do with the building but everything behind the entryway was gutted (the balcony, and even the plaster on the walls and ceiling were stripped. When I last got into the building the framework for the balcony was there and the wood framing of the proscenium was intact and sections of the plaster at the top of the proscenium had purposly been left in place.
The entryway was reopened to its' original 2 story configuration and tilework and terra cotta that had been covered were revealed for the first time in 60 years. The remnants of the two original ticket booths were uncovered.
The only thing that has been announced for certain is that the facade is to be restored and relit and a replica of the 1915 marquee is to be installed.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on May 24, 2006 at 4:12 pm

The Nexus website is still up and running:
http://tinyurl.com/rst5t

Jakorns
Jakorns on June 1, 2006 at 5:21 pm

Yes but they are now meeting in various venues. Jason hasn’t updated his website since they left the theatre. The theatre is sitting there and not much has happened since the destruction of the interior. They did board up the front.

Jakorns
Jakorns on March 29, 2008 at 10:50 pm

The non profit group that gutted the building completely (balcony, plaster, everything) is now out of business. The building is just an empty shell. Apparently there was some dispute between the president and the board members. The president was the wife of the president of the bank that owns the building.

LonPeterson
LonPeterson on February 6, 2009 at 2:09 pm

I believe the World was owned at one time by Roy Metcalf. He aso owned The Times Theatre in Cedar Rapids and also owned the Evans Theatre in Anamosa Iowa

Jakorns
Jakorns on February 25, 2009 at 7:37 pm

See notes about Roy Metcalfe and Fountainbleau Cinemas under the Times theater listing for Cedar Rapids. His Times theater and World theaters both featured electric pump waterfalls in the lobbies.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on August 10, 2009 at 10:42 pm

Here is an October 1977 ad from the Cedar Rapids Gazette:
http://tinyurl.com/lkskhj

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