Historic Iowa Theater Comes Back from the Flood
Saturday, February 27, 2010
It opened in 1928 as the RKO Iowa Theater. Katherine Hepburn performed there in 1940. In 1980, the Iowa Theater became the home of Theater Cedar Rapids. Des Moines, IA – infoZine – But in 2008, the Cedar River rose to 32 feet, 20 feet above flood stage, and tried to close the Iowa Theater Building for good. Like many parts of Cedar Rapids, however, the Iowa Theater Building is back…and better than ever.The Iowa Theater re-opened Friday, Feb. 26, with the stage production of “The Producers”. The black-tie event was sold out.The Federal Emergency Management Agency FEMA – through its public assistance program – obligated more than $4 million to the state of Iowa to reimburse the Theatre Cedar Rapids, Community Building Theatre Corp and the Cedar Rapids Barton, Inc. for replacements, restoration and repairs at the Iowa Theatre Building.“The below grade level of the Iowa Theatre Building was completely submerged by flood waters,” explained Todd Dolphin, FEMA’s Public Assistance branch chief. “This caused damage to interior wall and floor finishes, doors, electrical and HVAC.”Every effort was made to respect and save the history of the theater. In conjunction with Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division staff, FEMA’s Environmental and Historic Preservation Branch EHP worked with the theater and the State Historic Preservation Office SHPO to determine eligibility for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. This enabled the theater to receive a $1.6 million State of Iowa Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit.Original ornamental plaster details from the building’s construction in 1928 and located in the lobby and vestibule behind paneling were restored and repainted. A new marquee was installed that respects the proportions of the original which was removed in the 1980s.