Eastern Iowa is Home to the Oldest Operating Theatre in the U.S.
This theatre has been projecting onto the big screen since before "movies" even existed. Next weekend, they celebrate their history and a movie pioneer.
The State Theatre in Washington, Iowa started show moving pictures in 1897! The theatre, a former opera house located downtown, was damaged by a fire six years ago and was restored to the way it looked in 1946.
Sunday and Monday, May 1 and 2, the historic State Theatre hosts what's called the "Brinton Extravaganza." They'll be showing color films from the Frank Brinton collection. It will mark the first time they've been seen in a public setting for more than 100 years. They're hand-colored and go back as far as 1900.
W. Frank Brinton was a Washington resident who bought movies from production companies and then visited smaller communities in this part of the country. He showed them in opera houses, theaters, or even in a tent, if necessary. Brinton eventually managed the theatre in Washington.
When he stopped working, Brinton put everything in the basement of his home. He passed away in 1919 and it wasn't until 1981 the films were grabbed when they were bound for a landfill. Historian Michael Zahs saved them and is hosting a two-hour variety show
Zahs is hosting next weekend's two-hour events at the State Theatre. Red Cedar Chamber Music will perform live, a wide selection of short films will be shown, and more. A truly unique experience in a historic location, right in our own backyard.