Preservation Iowa’s Most Endangered 2018: Star Theater, Sioux Rapids (Buena Vista County)
John A. Meadows and Sons built the Star Theater in 1913. The brick building, designed by Nichols & Brown, was meant to house both a moving picture theater and a new home for the Republican Press newspaper. The theater closed in 1946 when the owners opened a new modern movie theater across the street. After the closing of the theater, the property housed several businesses before eventually being converted into three apartments. The former theater is located on a corner in the middle of the Sioux Rapids Main Street district.
Currently, due to owner neglect, many of the windows remain broken and the roof has started to collapse and fall into the structure making the inside unsafe to use. If the condition worsens, it will start to compromise the adjoining building as well with which it shares a connecting wall. The City tried unsuccessfully in the past to purchase the building from current owners. Non-payment of taxes on the structure and severe neglect has now spurred the City into taking possession of the building.
The Sioux Rapids Historical Society and the City Council have met and started to develop a plan to save the building. Even so, there is a concern that the significant challenges to preservation of the building as well as a lack of resources might also prompt a decision to demolish it. Loss of the theater would threaten the architectural, cultural and commercial continuity of the Main Street district by leaving a gaping hole in the current block of 2nd and Main.
Preservation Iowa’s Most Endangered Property program was started in 1995 and implemented to educate Iowans about the special buildings and historic sites that are slowly and gradually slipping away from us. In the past 20 years, Preservation Iowa has designated over 140 archaeological sites, churches, landscapes and a variety of other buildings.
The full list of Preservation Iowa’s 2018 Most Endangered Properties includes:
- Endangered: IOOF/Masonic Lodge Hall, Garnavillo
- Endangered: Otto Rudolph Furniture Building, Cherokee
- Endangered: Gasser Block 918 Court Ave, Chariton
- Endangered: Sanxay-Gilmore House, Iowa City
- Endangered: Beach Building, Ackley
- Endangered: St. Mary’s School, Waterloo
- Endangered: Star Theater, Sioux Rapids
- Endangered: Wilson High School, Cherokee
- Endangered: Carnegie Library, Rockwell City
- Endangered: White House Bathing Palace, Le Mars
- Endangered: Jackson County Jail, Andrew
- Endangered: Thomas D. Murphy Co., Red Oak
- Endangered: Dr. J.W. Smith Building, Charles City