Former Bohemian theater stars in its own sequel in Cedar Rapids
By Cindy Hadish/Save CR Heritage
CEDAR RAPIDS – Hollywood could not have written a happier ending for the former Ideal Theatre.
Now called the Ideal Social Hall, 213 16th Ave SE, the building will be center-stage for a grand opening celebration on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017. The free event, from 5-9 p.m., features appetizers, refreshments and exclusive first-looks at the restored building.
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Jon Jelinek, owner of Parlor City Pub & Eatery, 1125 Third St. SE, purchased the building in December 2014, with plans to reopen the former theater as a reception hall.
Nearly three years later, his vision is being realized, and has even been surpassed.
Two murals of nature scenes, thought to be a lost cause due to damage sustained over the years, have been restored, along with original tin ceilings and other architectural features. Original tiles denote the theater’s name outside the entrance.
Outside of the painting restorations, Jelinek performed much of the work himself, partnering with his son, Nick, and daughter-in-law, Steph Jelinek.
“Ideal is like resurrecting a piece of lost history – preserving historic landmarks for generations to come,” Steph Jelinek noted in a press release.
The Ideal Theatre opened in 1914, one of three silent movie theaters in the district that catered to the neighborhood’s Bohemian immigrants. Both the Praha Theatre, at 227 14th Ave. SE, and the Olympic, later named the Strand Theatre, at 1124 Third St. SE, have since been demolished.
According to the National Register of Historic Places, the Ideal Theatre was built and initially operated by Frank J. Smid, proprietor of Smid’s Hardware Store located just across the alley at 219 14th Ave. SE.
The Ideal Theatre was converted to a box factory in the 1920s and Smid eventually relocated his hardware store there during the 1930s.
Borgenson Automotive Paint moved into the building in the 1980s, and reopened after the 2008 flood that devastated New Bohemia and other core neighborhoods of Cedar Rapids.
Ideal Social Hall is already accepting bookings, said Matt Aswegan, part of the management team at Parlor City and the new reception hall.
The space will primarily cater to weddings on weekends, while other business and social events are being scheduled Sunday through Thursday, Aswegan said.
Outdoor space next to the building will be available for tents or food trucks in the future, he noted.
The Jelineks are using historic tax credits to help fund the work, Aswegan said. The federal historic tax credit program, used in such restorations as the Paramount Theatre and CSPS Hall, along with two dozen other Cedar Rapids flood-recovery projects, is among the programs on the chopping block under Republican tax reform plans, in spite of being an economic driver and offering a greater return on investment to the federal government.