ROCK RAPIDS THEATER
Rock Rapids, Iowa
The Rapids Theater, originally the Lyon Theater, opened in January of 1919 as vaudeville and silent screen picture house. It was built by a local successful farmer rancher who had the desire to bring the magic of stage and cinema to the area. It was built for $15,000 and sat 750. A ballroom dominated the full length of the 3rd floor with its own balcony and orchestra loft. It was hot spot for local dances well through era of the Charleston and through the era Big Band Swing and into early Rock n Roll. The Theater closed as a picture house in the late 70’s and various attempts were made to revive the picture house but the industry was too weak in rural America. A furniture store and community theatre occupied the space until the mid 90’s when it was retro-fitted into a restaurant and survived in different incarnations of a fine-dining establishment until 2008 when it closed its doors seemingly for good.
In 2011, a non-profit society formed for the preservation of this cultural and historical gem. The Rapids Theatre Preservation Society purchased the property. Stone Group is assisting the owner to place the property on the National Register of Historic Places. Stone Group is developing plans to repair and restore exterior and interior of the 3-story building and upgrade the mechanical and electrical systems. The owner plans to use the restored theatre for dramatic productions, art shows, musical performances, weddings and other events.