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The Donna Reed Theatre was designed 100+ years ago with plans to be the finest opera house on the Northwestern Railroad line between Cedar Rapids and Omaha.

When completed in 1914, the total cost of the Germania Opera House was near $80,000. Preview tours were held April 25th, 1914. One thousand people came to see the innovative stage effects, colored lights and the shifting of curtains and scenery. A new cement sidewalk was poured in front of the theater. The building’s formal dedication was held on May 18, 1914, with a canopy over the front entrance and 40 electric lights. The first events at the new Opera House included: The Ghost Breaker Company on May 18; the silent movie Washington at Valley Forge on June 5 and 6; Mullen’s Real Live Animal Show on July 8 and 10; the silent movie The Squaw Man on August 3; and the silent movie Caprice starring Mary Pickford on August 24. Fifteen years later, in January 1929, the theatre introduced sound.

The following decade, a young Donnabelle Mullenger saw her first movie in this exact theatre. The films released while Donna was a teenager included the now-classics: King Kong (1933); Walt Disney’s animated Snow White (1937); and the screwball comedy starring Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant in Bringing Up Baby (1938). The historic Candy Kitchen that was part of the theatre is now open as the Hollywood Bake Shop. 


By 1988, the once-beautiful opera house was in such disrepair that it was scheduled to be torn down to make way for a parking lot. The Donna Reed Foundation spearheaded the effort to save the building, working with the community to raise $100,000 to purchase and refurbish the movie house and launch the landmark Donna Reed museum in the beautiful uptown area.

Today, donations from fans around the world help maintain the historic building and support the arts focused programs spearheaded by the Donna Reed Foundation. The Foundation supports preservation in active archive collections and is also expanding outreach via

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Point of Interest

Historic Donna Reed Theatre is surrounded by the Denison Walk of Fame. Inspired by the Hollywood Walk of fame, it displays handprints inset in concrete to  commemorate
celebrity visitors who came to Donna’s
hometown to celebrate the legend.

Point of Interest

The exact replica of Donna's Hollywood Star is found in front of the Donna Reed Theatre. In Hollywood, Donna’s Star is located at 1612 Vine Street. 

Point of Interest

The Denison sign. Nearly 16,000 travelers going through
the west side of Denison can see the
community’s concrete letters, a nod
to Donna and the famous American
landmark overlooking Hollywood.

Point of Interest

In 1986, Donna’s Oscar ® was donated to the city of Denison. It is currently on display at the historic McHenry House.

Point of Interest

Donna’s childhood home was located
on Donna Reed Drive. The house was
destroyed by a fire in 1983. The farm
where the house was located is about
six miles southeast of Denison, Iowa.

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