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Scenic Theater (85-00994)

Also known as: 014, Pyle Photo, Twin Star

121 Main St
Ames IA 50010

History and Architecture

Construction date


Historic function(s)

Commerce/trade/specialty store
Recreation and culture/theater/movie theater

Current function(s)

Commerce/trade/specialty store
Recreation and culture/theater/movie theater

Architectural classification(s)

Modern movement
Roof form: flat

Evaluation Under National Register Criteria

National Register status

Not listed


This building does not retain integrity from its historic movie theater period. However, as a two-part commercial block it might contribute to a downtown historic district.

This two-story building has four façade bay, defined by four upper-story window openings. The first-story storefront has a recessed entry with display windows. This building completes the eastern half of the original building, constructed in the late nineteenth century. The two building halves are joined by a center staircase accessed via a central entrance door. A mid-twentieth century remodel resulted in the blonde brick facing and the existing storefront. The interior was inaccessible at the time of survey; however, a view of the interior revealed non-historic partitions and non-historic floor, wall, and ceiling finishes.

The building was constructed before 1892. Between 1896 and 1900, the building housed a restaurant, and a bakery, fruit, and candy shop on the first floor and a photography studio on the second floor. The 1911 Sanborn map indicates a moving picture theater occupying the first floor. In 1913, Fred Gerbracht purchased the Scenic Theater from H.C. Coulson. Fred Gerbracht’s son, Joe Gerbracht, ran the theater and renamed the theater, the Twin Star. The Gerbrachts replaced the stage and scenery, and added seats, a mercury arc rectifier, a concave curtain, and an exhaust fan. The Collegian Theatre, located down the street, replaced the Twin Star in 1937. The 1947 Sanborn map indicates a furniture store as the occupant of the first floor. William and Genevieve Pyle purchased the building in 1995, and utilized the building for their photography studio. In November of 2008, the Pyle family closed their photography studio after sixty years of business.