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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.


From Encyclopedia Dubuque
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Princess Theater. Photo courtesy: Jim Massey
THEATERS. Theaters were the sites of live acting on the stage and later, in some cases, film presentations. Dubuque residents did not wait long to enjoy theater entertainment. Between 1837 and 1900 Dubuque boasted of at least twenty-one separate theater locations.

In 1837 Charles Corkery opened the Shakespeare Coffee House. Popular for its meetings and parties, the Coffee House featured the theatrical company of Mackenzie and Jefferson in 1839 performing Othello, Charles II, and Richard III during a ten-day engagement. More regular performances were furnished by the IOWA THESPIAN ASSOCIATION.

Theaters were located at Fourth and Main STREETS since 1858. That was the year in which the City Hotel, then twenty-five years old, was remodeled into a theater, considered the finest of its time. Prior to this, theatrical productions had been presented at the Julien Theater on the northwest corner of Fifth and Locust Streets.

Among many Dubuque theaters have been the ATHENAEUM, COATES OPERA HOUSE, John S. Potter, St. Cloud Opera House, PEOPLE'S THEATER, MAJESTIC THEATRE, ORPHEUM, BIJOU THEATER, Shakespeare Hall, Odeon, LITTLE BIJOU THEATER, Napanese, BARN (THE), GRAND OPERA HOUSE, and Avon.