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Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, December 10, 1915, Page 9

Leo Williams, proprietor of the Princess Theatre, has recently installed a new electric piano and several electric fans, which will add much to the attractiveness and comfort of the theatre.

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, October of 2016

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, January 31, 2017

Mount Ayr has organized a swell six-piece orchestra, one that the town will be proud of. The orchestra, called "The Princess Orchestra," will play at the picture show every Tuesday night, entertainments and other places. The orchestra is composed of E. B. Thompson, cornet; E. W. Brooks, clarinet; Frank Fuller, trombone; Raymond Bretz, drums; Ruth Flynn, piano and Mrs. Harrington, violin.

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, April of 2017

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, July 12, 2016



By Mike Avitt

What a tremendous photo this is of the newly remodeled (1937) Princess Theater. The movie, "You Can't Take It With You," was released in 1938 and starred Jean Arthur, Jimmy Stewart and Lionel Barrymore with Frank Capra as the director. A big thanks to Sally Drake for use of this photograph taken by her uncle, Glen Sheldon, who sold popcorn at the Princess Theatre during this time period.

[The building was constructed by William Timby in 1887 for the W. A. Simpson Department Store. It was converted into the Princess Theater in 1914. Live musicians accompanied silent movies.]

W. H. Eddy bought the Princess from A. R. Kremer in May of 1931. [August 18, 2008 Creston News Advertiser stated that W. H. Eddy owned and operated the Princess Theater for 56 years from 1937 to 1977.] In the summer of 1937, W. H. Eddy and his son J. H. invested $10,000 in a remodeling project that would completely transform the theater. A stucco finish was applied as well as a new brick facade. The marquee with neon lights and white ceiling lights was added. New, red-tile entrance doors were installed. His and her restrooms were built on either side of the lobby and a ticket booth with a plate-glass window was constructed.

The interior now had a seating capacity of nearly 400 with yellow, red, green, blue, and white side lights. A new cooling apparatus that [were fans blowing over ice] measured eight feet long, seven feet deep, and six feet high had the power to cool the entire theater. The floor was newly poured concrete and the exterior sidewalk was also new.

A fire-proof projection room housed the state-of-the-art projection and sound equipment. The work was all done by local contractors with Leonard Rusk as the head carpenter. Victor Lesan and Robert Askren were commissioned for the painting and Elzie Beck and H. E. Wall had charge of the lighting and wiring.

The completely modern Princess Theater opened August 1, 1937 and presented the movie, "Slave Ship," starring Warner Baxter, Wallace Berry, Elizabeth Allen, and Mickey Rooney. The admission price was 26 cents for adults and 10 cents for children.

[Thomas and Charlene Green purchased the Princess Theater in 1980 and operated it as a movie theater until it closed in June of 1985. After a major remodeling project, the Princess Theater opened her doors once again with a grand opening August 21, 2008.]

But look next door. We can see part of Walter Dorn's Cafe. Walter sold this building to Mrs. Earl Humphreys and Mrs. Harley Bagley in April 1938. Mr. Dorn then opened another Dorn's Cafe on the north side of the square in the Dr. F. C. Smith building (which I'm still trying to identify). Zink's Bakery opened in the Smith building in October 1939 as Walter moved to Kellerton to take care of his mother.

Painted on the Dorn's Cafe window are the words, "Mt. Ayr Beer Tavern." Where have we seen those words before? Well, about three months ago I wrote an article accompanied by the scan of four matchcovers and one of them said, Mt. Ayr Beer Tavern - Percy Skinner." Percy "Push" Skinner owned the South Side Tavern in this exact location for about twenty years, before selling to his daughter and son-in-law, Doris and Linn Sheil.

On the other side of the Princess Theater we can see the house that was torn down to make way for the Iowa Mutual Telephone Company building that was constructed in the mid-60s. I think Mount Ayr Schools Superintendent Arthur Hansen lived in that house.

As you can see, what later became the Carr Chevrolet Garage hasn't been built yet. Keep the photos coming, folks. I've got lots of information and all I need is an old picture to get motivated.

Princess photographs and notes [ ] courtesy of Mount Ayr Record-News

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, December of 2015

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