Saturday, February 2, 2013

Orpheum Electric Building

The previous building where the current Orpheum Building now stands was the Woodbury County Courthouse. This area of downtown Sioux City was also used to build the corn palaces every year.

 Designed by a prominent New York and Chicago architectural firm known throughout the country for their work with the Orpheum theater circuit, Rapp & Rapp, the Orpheum Electic Building was completed in 1927. The building is of eclectic design in the French Renaissance Revival style with some Art Deco influences. In its time the theater was one of Sioux City’s most opulent spaces with sweeping arches, long promenades, large foyers opened to a cavernous auditorium with six story tall hand stenciled, gilded ceiling and three immense crystal chandeliers.

From 1927 until 1937 the theater served as a venue for vaudeville and movies, both silent and “talkies”. After 1937 talking movies became the theater’s staple entertainment with only intermittent touring stage productions.

Best known for its theater the building also houses commercial space. In 1949 four additional floor were added to the commercial block when the Sioux City Gas and Electric Company took occupancy as the building’s major tenant.. The theater space itself reach 6 stories in the center of the building.

Over the years the theater was not used as often for live productions. In 1982 it was "twinned" or cut into two small movie houses, and a wall of sheet rock was placed down the center aisle. These movie theaters operated until 1992 when for the first time in 65 years, the Orpheum went dark.

The reconstruction and restoration to return the Orpheum Theater to its original beauty was started in 1999. Overseen by Ray Shepardson, with the expertise of architect Ed Storm from FEH Associates in Sioux City at a cost of nearly $12 million the restoration was completed in 2001 and on September 15, the Orpheum Theater held its Grand Reopening. The theater has hosted many talented live acts over the last 12 years. It has become one of Sioux City's crown jewels.

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