An iconic theater in our small town

In 1916 the International Order of Odd Fellows converted the lower floor of their old building to a silent movie theatre called The Onawa House.

In 1927 Muriel Irandson purchased the equipment and called it the Onawa Theatre. In 1936 she built the current location at 920 10th Street at a cost of $30,000,

In 1945 Lopevitz purchased both theatres and upgraded them to talking movies.

In 1942, Arnold and Ann Johnson became managers of both movie houses.

In the 1940’s Arnold was very active in raising money for the war, giving free tickets for 20 lbs of scrap metal totaling 6500 lbs. and raised $25,000 in selling war bonds.

In 1945 22ft was added to the Iowa Theatre space for a cry room, ladies bathroom, and stairway to the balcony.

The Onawa Theatre closed in 1953. Arnold and Ann Johnson bought the Iowa Theatre from his fathers family in 1975 and updated the projection system, a new screen, concession stand and installed the new marquee.

Arnold was a true showman, for 36 years selling tickets 7 days a week, driving to Omaha every Monday to book upcoming movies, maintaining the building and selling the best hot popcorn and he was a farmer too! His wife Ann worked right along side him until she passed after a long bout of cancer in 1966. Arnold Johnson passed in 1977.

John and Janice Johnson ran the theater for a long time and have great stories to tell, just as every owner who took on this adventure.

Derek Cartmill purchased and brought the theater back to life with his renovations in 2002. He had it opened for the community until it was closed due to Covid in 2019.

In 2023, Chris and Stephenie Johnson purchased the theater and updated electrical, the concession area, all flooring, added self serve fountain pop, and decorated the interior with a nostalgic theme. The walls are adorned with a hand painted mural, an original wall sconce, and photos of the older days.

We are lucky to bring you memories within these walls and continue this iconic establishment. We hope you love it as much as our family does.