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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
Marshall Cohen—researcher and producer, CNN

Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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BRADLEY THEATRES. William L. BRADLEY, Jr. with two partners commissioned the construction of the GRAND OPERA HOUSE. He owned 98% of GRAND OPERA HOUSE, INC. and within two or three years of the building's completion he bought out the other investors.

After he died, the ownership was passed on to Mary Bradley Chalmers, his daughter, who owned it until she sold it to Richard Davies of Des Moines, IA. The Grand Opera House was in the Bradley family for 80 years. He also owned the STRAND THEATER, AVON THEATER, and the STATE THEATRE which together were known as the Bradley Theatres. The 1964 through 1972 Dubuque City Directory listed 147 W. 8th Av. as the office. When these theaters and the ORPHEUM went together to sponsor an event together, the term ASSOCIATED THEATRES was used.

In 1969 the GRAND THEATRE and the STRAND THEATER, both owned by both companies, left their theater marquees dark on June 27th as part of a nationwide protest by theater owners against pay-TV. (2)

For one week ending June 18, 1970 there was only one R--"restricted"--movie shown in Dubuque. All other theaters showed "G" or "GP" ratings--for general audiences or general with parental discretion recommended. When questioned, theater managers were divided as to the results. Although URBAN RENEWAL activity downtown may have hurt business, an official of the Bradley Theaters described the week as "awful." "The Molly Maguires" (GP) and "True Grit" attracted 1,600 customers to the Grand. "The Games" (G) at the Strand only brought in 200 customers for the entire week. (3)

In 1972 Bradley Theatres sold the Grand and Strand to Richard L. Davis. Davis had managed the DUBUQUE DRIVE-IN from 1950 to 1955 and at the time of the Dubuque purchase owned the Pioneer Drive-In and Cinema I and II in Des Moines. He had constructed seven first-run theaters in Des Moines and had brought the first cinerama theater to the state. (4)



1. Jentz, Leonard,"Lights, Camera, Action," Telegraph-Herald, June 5, 1966, p. 23

2. "Some Theaters Here Joining Dark Protest," Telegraph-Herald, June 27, 1969, p. 15

3. Smith, Peter. " 'Twas a Week of 'Clean' Movies," Telegraph-Herald, June 19, 1970, p. 17

4. Tighe, Mike. "Strand, Grand Theaters Won't Switch to Triple-X," Telegraph Herald, August 6, 1972, p. 1A