Orpheum Theater

520 Pierce Street
Sioux City, IA 51101

Builder: Wurlitzer Organ Co., (date unknown, circa 1925).
Manuals: 3
Ranks: 21
Action: Electro-pneumatic

Notes: The Sioux City Orpheum Theater was designed by the nationally known Chicago firm of Rapp & Rapp and constructed in 1927 as part of the Orpheum Circuit. The major developer and promoter for the theatre was local Sioux City businessman, Arthur Sanford. It was the largest theatre in the State of Iowa at its time and was certainly somewhat of a risk financially for Mr. Sanford, with a total construction cost of $1.75 million.

This once opulent vaudeville and moving picture house boasted a large 2,690 seat, six story auditorium complete with a 21 rank Wurlitzer pipe organ, half circle boxes, hand carved detailing, gilded ornamentation, several crystal chandeliers and a hand painted ceiling. Throughout the years, the Orpheum was used for symphony performances, ballet and special attractions and hosted entertainers such as Fred Astaire, Tallulah Bankhead, and Katherine Hepburn, Kirk Douglas, John Barrymore, Joseph Cotton, and Joe E. Brown.

In the 1970’s and 80’s the Orpheum was remodeled and turned into a one-story movie house with fluorescent light fixtures and a projection booth carved into what was once the mezzanine balcony. Later it was split into a two-screen theater. The entire box section of the balcony and the half circle boxes were removed, and the chandeliers and fine architectural detailing were covered over with false ceilings. The building was closed to the public in 1992.

Organ Historical Society as of 20.