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World Theater Looks For Tenants

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) Today, Cedar Rapids World Theater doesnt stand out much when the sun goes does. But once upon a time, local historians say the parking garage across the street was a train station and the World Theater, with its faade lit up, was a beacon to the city.

"They fitted out their building with the light bulbs to attract attention so that people would see their movie theater first, said Cedar Rapids Historian Mark Stoffer Hunter. They'd get off the train and say, "Let's go see a show tonight, we're in Cedar Rapids tonight. Oh, there's a theater right there."

"It says tickets there, said Guaranty Bank and Trust President and COO Chris Lindell. You can see a little bit of the original floor.

Construction took less than 5 months back in the early 20th Century. Workers took building materials right from the railcars just a few hundred feet away and slapped the building together.

"This was a common thing to do before World War One, is that if you're putting up a new building in a downtown area between two existing buildings, you simply used the brick walls that were already there. You shared the wall, said Stoffer Hunter.

"They were going around the U.S. building theaters like this, said Lindell. So it's not a very unique building. It's unique probably because it still exists and most of the others have already been torn down."

When it was built, it was one of ten theaters in town.

"This was the only place you could go to get all your news and entertainment. People would go to the movie theaters four to five times a week, said Stoffer Hunter.

What was once busy is now empty and looking for a tenant.

"Art exhibits? Where there might be art that's spread throughout here and people could walk through and appreciate that, said Lindell.

Whatever happens inside, Mark doesnt want the curtain to close on what you see from the street.

"I think it's important to preserve the exterior because you don't see that kind of architectural style anymore, said Stoffer Hunter.

The bank owns the land and building now. Since the 2008 floods, the stage area is where the banks boiler sits, meaning that it likely wont be a performance space anymore.
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