Capri Theater, Lake City

Capri Theater, Lake City (13-00823).

About the Photographs

Images and photographs on this website come from a number of sources, most prominently the Statewide Survey of Movie Theaters completed by the survey team lead by Sally Schwenk Associates, Inc.

Additional photographs and images (including those found in the front page slideshow) are courtesy of: American Institute of Architects, Appanoose County Historical Society, Martin Arthur, Mary Bennett, Ralph Christian, Barbara Mitchell, Craig Binnebose, Cinema Treasures, Kerry Davis, Camilla Deiber, Des Moines Register, Steve Frevert, Mark Heggen, Don Hirt, Internet Movie Database, Iowa’s historic preservation commission members, Mary Jones, Michael Kramme, Bradley Kuiper, Sarah LaGrange, Library of Congress, Paula Mohr, Musser Public Library, Jan Nash, Larry Pedley, Rebecca Scott, Mark Shafer, State Historical Society of Iowa, Steve Stimmel, and John Zeller.

Additional historic and recent photographs are being uploaded on a regular basis, so be sure to come back and visit your favorite theaters again and again.

Hollywood in the Heartland

The statewide survey of historic movie theaters was envisioned while State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) staff traveled to the four corners of the state for workshops, conferences, and site visits. Historic movie theaters are still evident on the main streets of many Iowa communities—small and large. Even though many have been repurposed for new uses, the former theater buildings still read as "movie theaters" through their architectural detailing. Some are amazingly still in use presenting movies and serving as community gathering spaces. SHPO Architectural Historian Paula Mohr began collecting photographs and information on movie theaters with plans to develop a statewide survey. In late 2007 and early 2008, the SHPO applied for and received a Preserve America grant from the National Park Service.

In 2009, the State Historical Society of Iowa contracted with Sally Schwenk Associates, Inc., a Missouri-based cultural resource and preservation planning consultant, to conduct the statwide survey and prepare the National Register documents. Some of the content on this website is derived from her team's work. Project staff included Sally Fullerton Schwenk, project director and historian responsible for research and development of the MPDF; Kerry Davis (now with Preservation Solutions), architectural historian and survey coordinator, who conducted the field survey of one hundred resources and prepared the National Register of Historic Places nomination for the Sioux Theatre. Providing preplanning assistance and field investigation of an additional 100 theaters were Julie Arntson, architectural intern and Dana Cloud Gould, architect, of Susan Richards Johnson and Associates, Inc.. Assisting Sally Schwenk were Stacy Wilson, research historian; and Heather Gilbride, administrative assistant in charge of data entry, legal description, UTM research, and fact verification. Gilbride also coordinated the final editing, printing, and assembly of the individual survey forms.

The National Register documents prepared as part of the statewide survey were reviewed by SHPO staff and representatives of Main Street Iowa (Michael Wagler), Preservation Iowa (Naura Godar), a Certified Local Government (Roger Natte, Fort Dodge), and a theater owner (Jim Davies, Windsor Theatre, Hampton). The State Nominations Review Committee (SNRC) reviewed and recommended the MPDF for forwarding to the National Park Service during their June 2011 committee meeting.

Countless individuals across Iowa, including theatre owners, members of Iowa's historic preservation commissions, and local historians contributed research to the project and opened their properties. Mary Bennett of the State Historical Society of Iowa (Iowa City) also deserves special mention for her research contributions to Hollywood in the Heartland.

Project Partners

State Historic Preservation Office, Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs

Preservation Iowa

Main Street Iowa, Iowa Economic Development Authority

Iowa Tourism Office, Iowa Economic Development Authority

Robert Fridley, Fridley Theatres


This website is based upon work assisted by a grant from the Department of the Interior, National Park Service. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Department of the Interior.