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State Historical Society of Iowa Press Release

For immediate release April 6, 2012

Contact: Jeff Morgan, Jeff.Morgan@iowa.gov, (515) 281-3858

Hollywood in the Heartland Yields First National Register Nomination

National Park Service approves Sioux Rapids theater nomination

DES MOINES – The National Park Service has approved a Sioux Rapids theater for the National Register of Historic Places, making it the first property documented in a Department of Cultural Affairs research project to earn the designation.

The Sioux Theatre of Sioux Rapids, Iowa, was constructed in 1946 and played an important role as an entertainment venue and in the resumption of commercial development in Sioux Rapids following the Great Depression and World War II. With seating for 404 patrons, the Sioux Theatre featured the latest amenities including floor sloping for maximum visibility from each seat, sound-dampening features, and comfortable seats with ample legroom.

The theater was owned and operated from 1946 to around 1960 by Don and Edna (Collins Rector) Gran, who also lived in the building’s large, second-floor residential apartment. The theater closed in 1976. The Sioux Rapids Area Historical Society took ownership in 1985 and continues to care for the building, which now serves as a museum.

The theater was nominated for the National Register of Historic Places last fall after being included in “Hollywood in the Heartland,” a multi-phase, multi-year research project DCA’s State Historic Preservation Office is conducting in partnership with Preservation Iowa, Main Street Iowa and the Iowa Tourism Office.

The project focuses on the historical and architectural significance of movie theaters in Iowa from the days of the nickelodeons in the late 1890s to the decline of drive-in theaters and the spread of multiplexes in the mid-1970s. It is also accepting information about Iowa-related movies and Iowans who have been involved in the movie industry.

To date, the project has generated more than 200 entries and contains a typology of Iowa movie theater properties based on survey findings and a list of theaters determined eligible for listing on the National Register.

In related news, the National Park Service approved a Multiple Property Document Form for Iowa’s movie theaters.

Developed through “Hollywood in the Heartland,” the MPDF facilitates nominating related historic properties to the National Register by organizing associated themes, trends, and patterns of history into contexts and defining the property types representing them. It streamlines the evaluation of individual properties by comparing them with resources sharing similar physical characteristics and historic associations across the state.

“The MPDF is available to any theater property owners who are interested in seeking a National Register nomination,” SHPO Architectural Historian Paula Mohr said. “We hope it will encourage future nominations because researchers will not have to reinvent the wheel; they can use the historic context that has already been developed in the Multiple Property Document.”

“Hollywood in the Heartland” is supported by a Preserve America grant from the Department of the Interior, National Park Service. Contact Mohr at the State Historic Preservation Office at paula.mohr@iowa.gov or 515-281-6826 for more information.

 

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The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs is responsible for developing the state’s interest in the areas of the arts, history and other cultural matters with the advice and assistance from its two divisions: the State Historical Society of Iowa and the Iowa Arts Council. DCA preserves, researches, interprets and promotes an awareness and understanding of local, state and regional history and stimulates and encourages the study and presentation of the performing and fine arts and public interest and participation in them. It implements tourism-related art and history projects as directed by the General Assembly and designs a comprehensive, statewide, long-range plan with the assistance of the Iowa Arts Council to develop the arts in Iowa. More information about DCA is available at www.culturalaffairs.org.

 

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