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


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ODEON THEATER. The theater was located in the TOWN CLOCK building between 8th and 9th erected in 1845 by H. S. Hetherington as a Congregational church. When a new Congregational church was constructed, the vacant building on Main Street was used by Germans who established the Odeon Theater in 1858. (1) The building later was used as a post office, concert hall, and finally a dry goods store from which the doomed town clock fell.

In 1903 the Odeon was part of the Iowa-Illinois Circuit of Theaters, that was announced in June of that year, by the promoters. These included the BUSBY BROTHERS, W. L. and A. J. Busby, former residents of Dubuque (later Clinton and Marshalltown) and the owners of the Odeon theater in Dubuque, and F. W. Chamberlain of Burlington. The organization created the largest one-night circuit in the nation. Other theaters included in the circuit were: Grand Opera House, Peoria; Empire Theater, Quincy; Economic Theater, Clinton; Odeon Theater, Marshalltown; The Burtis, Davenport; The Illinois, Rock Island; The Wagner, Moline; The Grand, Muscatine; The Ebinger, Fort Madison; The Grand, Rockford; The Grand, Burlington; Keokuk Opera House, Keokuk; Iowa City Opera House, Iowa City; and the Monmouth Opera House, Monmouth, Illinois. (2)

With the new business arrangement, attractions were booked by one man for all the houses at the same time offering the best possible routing advantages to the companies. (3)



1. Oldt, Franklin T. and Patrick J. Quigley. History of Dubuque County, Iowa. Chicago: Goodspeed Historical Association, p. 125

2. "Iowa-Ilinois Towns," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, June 2, 1903, p. 8

3. Ibid.