Mississippi Lofts and Adler Theatre

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Hotel Mississippi-RKO Orpheum Theater
Mississippi Lofts from SW.jpg
Mississippi Lofts and Adler Theatre is located in Iowa
Mississippi Lofts and Adler Theatre
Mississippi Lofts and Adler Theatre is located in the US
Mississippi Lofts and Adler Theatre
Location 106 E. 3rd Street
Davenport, Iowa
Coordinates 41°31′22″N 90°34′26″W / 41.52278°N 90.57389°W / 41.52278; -90.57389Coordinates: 41°31′22″N 90°34′26″W / 41.52278°N 90.57389°W / 41.52278; -90.57389
Area less than one acre
Built 1931
Architect A.S. Graven
Henry Dreyfuss
Architectural style Art Deco
MPS Davenport MRA
NRHP reference # 98001273[1]>
Significant dates
Added to NRHP October 22, 1998
Designated DRHP August 3, 2005[2]

The Mississippi Lofts and Adler Theatre is an apartment building and theater complex located in downtown Davenport, Iowa. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places by its original name, the Hotel Mississippi-RKO Orpheum Theater. The Hotel Mississippi was listed on the Davenport Register of Historic Properties in 2005.[2]

Hotel Mississippi-RKO Orpheum Theater[edit]

The Hotel Mississippi was the last large-scale hotel to be built in the third phase of hotel construction in downtown Davenport after the Davenport Hotel in 1909 and the Hotel Blackhawk in 1915.[3] It was designed by A.S. Graven of Chicago. Henry Dreyfuss of New York City, who was an art consultant for the RKO chain, designed the theater's interior.[4] The building is situated on the site that was occupied by the Davenport Block, a commercial block built by Col. George Davenport, one of the founders of the city of Davenport and its namesake. The developer, George Bechtel, was able secure the means for the construction of the hotel during the Great Depression.[5]

The Davenport Block (c. 1915) on the left where the Mississippi Lofts and Adler Theatre stand today.

The building opened in November 1931 with 200 guest rooms and 50 apartments. The ten story building is 119.51 feet (36.4 m) high.[6] Businesses such as a coffee shop, drug store, a clothier, realtor, floral shop and a beauty salon have been housed on the first floor over the years. Eventually, the hotel became an apartment building.[7]

The RKO Orpheum Theater was a 2,700-seat theater that was built at the same time as the hotel, which surrounds the theater to the south and west. It was Iowa's largest movie house.[4] Beside movies, entertainers such as John Barrymore, Liberace, Ella Fitzgerald and Pearl Bailey performed in the theater live.[4]

The hotel portion of the facility is a ten-story L-shaped brick and granite building. The verticality of the building is established by way of the vertically aligned windows that are separated by decorative panels. The Art Deco style is employed throughout the building, including the theater interior. Overall, the façade of the building is void of excessive ornamentation. However, the stylized geometry indicative of the Art Deco style is found on the horizontal banding that defines the tenth floor. Decorative terra cotta panels with a floral motif are also used to define the mezzanine level of the lower stories.[8]

Mississippi Lofts and Adler Theatre[edit]

The Adler Theatre can be seen just behind Mississippi Lofts and the RiverCenter

The building had deteriorated over the years and by the 1970s the RKO Orpheum was rarely being used. The last movie shown in the theater was on September 11, 1973.[4] In 1981, an effort began to restore the theater.[9] The Davenport Chamber of Commerce bought the theater and donated it to the RiverCenter For The Performing Arts, a non-profit group that was established to raise money to restore the theatre and operate it as a performing arts center.[4] The theater restoration project lasted from 1985 to 1986.[5] The project included restoring the original crystal and glass chandeliers, and rebuilding and reupholstering the original seats. New carpeting was reproduced in England using a roll of the original floral woolen carpeting that was found during the remodeling project.[4] The renovated theater is a part of the adjacent convention center complex called the RiverCenter that opened in fall 1983. The convention center connects the Adler Theatre with the Blackhawk Hotel.[9] The theater was renamed the Adler Theatre after E.P. Adler and his son Phillip D. Adler. They had been newspaper publishers and philanthropists in Davenport and the decision to rename the theater was based on a $1.3 million endowment from Lee Enterprises, the company they led.[4][9]

The marquee for the Adler Theatre that was added in 2010.

In 2004, the city of Davenport bought the hotel for $739,000 for the expansion of the Adler Theatre.[7] In autumn 2006, a $10.5 million renovation was completed at the Alder.[10] The theater’s stage was expanded from a depth of 29 feet (9 m) to 41 feet (12 m) into what was the west wing of the hotel. The renovations also included a new loading dock, additional dressing rooms, improved sound and computerized rigging systems. The architect for this renovation was Van Dijk, Westlake, Reed, & Leskosky of Cleveland Ohio, led by principal architect Paul Westlake. The theater is home to the Quad City Symphony Orchestra, Opera Quad-Cities and Ballet Quad Cities, and hosts a Broadway tour series annually.

At the same time as the theater was being renovated, the Mississippi Hotel was undergoing an $8.5 million renovation.[7] The last tenants were moved out of the old hotel in 2004 and 56 new apartments were created primarily on the south side of the building. The project was completed in spring 2007. J&T Development LLC of Chicago was in charge of the renovation. In addition to creating new apartments, the lobby area was restored to its past appearance. The project restored its multi-colored terrazzo floors, Art Deco-style elevator doors and walnut and teak wood paneling. The loft manager’s office was created from the hotel’s former check-in desk.

In November 2010, a new temporary marquee facade was installed above the main entrance of the theater.[11] It replaced one that was installed in 1997, but used its frame. The 2010 marquee was replaced in April 2018 by a new $340,000 structure designed by Michigan architect Eric Larsen and built by Wagner Electric Sign Company of Elyria, Ohio. It features two 30-foot (9.1 m) angled panels with LED screens that advertise upcoming shows, and a 36-foot (11 m) vertical blade sign with the theatre's name. The inspiration for the new marquee was the theatre's original 1931 RKO Theater marquee.[12] The City of Davenport and private donations paid for the project.

References[edit]

  1. ^ National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ a b Historic Preservation Commission. "Davenport Register of Historic Properties" (PDF). City of Davenport. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-02-11. Retrieved 2017-02-10. 
  3. ^ Svendsen, Marlys A.; Bowers, Martha H. (1982). Davenport where the Mississippi runs west: A Survey of Davenport History & Architecture. Davenport, Iowa: City of Davenport. pp. 5–6. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "About The Adler". Adler Theatre. Archived from the original on 2010-09-22. Retrieved 2010-09-23. 
  5. ^ a b "Mississippi Hotel/RKO Theatre" (PDF). Davenport Public Library. Retrieved 2010-09-23. 
  6. ^ "Mississippi Hotel". Emporis. Retrieved 2012-01-09. 
  7. ^ a b c Gaul, Alma (April 24, 2007). "Old hotel is home to new apartments". Quad-City Times. Davenport. Retrieved 2010-09-23. 
  8. ^ Svendsen, 6-10
  9. ^ a b c Williams, Basil, Lewis Blake (1986). The Quad Cities USA Book. Bettendorf, Iowa: Williams & Associates. pp. 20–21. 
  10. ^ Burke, David (November 3, 2006). "Adler marks 75 years with renovations". Quad-City Times. Davenport. Retrieved 2010-09-22. 
  11. ^ Burke, David (November 18, 2010). "Adler Theatre installs new, temporary marquee". Quad-City Times. Davenport. Retrieved 2010-11-30. 
  12. ^ Cullen, Jack (April 2, 2018). "End of an era: Crew tears down Adler Theatre marquee". Quad-City Times. Davenport. Retrieved 2018-04-02. 

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