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Documentation

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State Theatre (85-01681)

Also known as: 85-020-058, Museum of the Community Historical Society of Central Iowa, South Museum

73 Main St
Maxwell IA 50161

History and Architecture

Construction date

date unknown

Historic function(s)

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

Current function(s)

Education/library
Recreation and culture/museum

Architectural classification(s)

Late victorian
Late victorian: italianate

Evaluation Under National Register Criteria

National Register status

Not listed

Narrative(s)

This building does not retain integrity from its historic movie theater period, due to the loss of the marquee, infill of original theater entrance, application of the non-historic pent roof over the storefronts, and various alterations to the interior. As a two-part commercial block it might contribute to a downtown historic district.

The theater historically occupied the central section of a large ten-bay-wide block that features a unified fa├žade; upper-story fenestration defines the bays. The theater section occupied the three central bays. The second-story windows are tall and narrow with splayed brick lintels, stone sills, and non-historic wood panel infill. A decorative projecting brick cornice defines the roofline, including implied brackets and recessed panels. A non-historic, wood-shingled pent roof separates the first story from the second. The first story of the central theater section features mid-twentieth century buff-colored brick veneer with a wood-framed storefront (formerly the theater entrance) and two movie poster displays windows. The interior includes the following spaces and features: the mid-twentieth century entrance foyer with historic finishes and ticket booth; the c1938 auditorium (seats or sloped floor removed); the mid-twentieth century crying room off of the auditorium; the mid-twentieth century men's and women's toilet rooms in the basement; the c1938 projection booth on the second floor; and the c1938 Swanson family apartment on the second floor.

The building was constructed c1895 and originally housed a farm implement company. Around 1938, the first floor was turned into a movie theater with a screen, stage, and seating for 150-200 persons. Paul Swanson purchased the theater in 1944. Swanson operated the theater with his son, Bob Swanson, running the projector. The Swansons lived on the second floor of the building, and operated several neighboring community theaters, including the Collins Theater. Mrs. Swanson sold the theater in 1956, and it ceased operating as a theater in the 1960s. The Community Historical Society purchased the building in 1988 to house the many artifacts of the historical society.