Marianne & Rebecca Fons Save a Small Town Theater

New Ownership – Iowa Theater (Photo Credit: Marianne Fons Facebook Page)

We all know Marianne Fons. She’s the Fons in Fons & Porter. She’s an expert quilter, TV show personality, author and lecturer.

And, now? She’s added movie theater owner to the list. Marianne announced the purchase of the theater on her Facebook page in August 2015:

We figure it will take us a couple of years to renovate, restore, and update The Iowa, but it will be a fantastic movie theater and event space before you know it!

Marianne and her youngest daughter, Rebecca—whom you may remember from her guest appearances on Quilty, starring her sister Mary Fons, of which she was the producer—took ownership of the historical Iowa Theater in 2015. Dating back to the late 1800s, restoring this theater meant preserving the history of Winterset, and quite a history it is according to what Brenda Hollingsworth, manager with the Madison County Historic Preservation Commission, told The Des Moines Register:

The Iowa Theater was originally a one-story building that was a meat market in 1899 and then later a bakery and restaurant. In the early 1900s, the building was purchased for a new playhouse for vaudeville productions. And then around 1928, they remodeled the whole structure and built the second story and upgraded it to put in silent movies.

Iowa Theater Grand Reopening (left: Marianne Fons, right: Rebecca Fons) (Photo Credit: Teddi Yaeger Photography)

Now, bring yourself back to 2017, to the grand reopening celebration on May 24, 2017. It was certainly a day to remember for the small town of Winterset, Iowa and its up-and-running movie house. The celebration went into the night, replete with concessions from the counter inside, champagne, cake, speeches and ribbon cutting.

Iowa Theater Grand Reopening (Photo Credit: Teddi Yaeger Photography)

The reimagining of the theater was truly a labor of love. Run as a non-profit, the theater will not only screen movies, but act as a venue for educational programming, meetings, lectures and local performances, as Marianne’s oldest daughter, Hannah Fons explains.

Iowa Theater (Photo Credit: Teddi Yaeger Photography)
Iowa Theater Grand Reopening (left to right: Mary Fons, Marianne Fons, Rebecca Fons, Hannah Fons) (Photo Credit: Stacy Z Photography)

So, we know what to expect, but who does what exactly?

Marianne is the Chair of the Iowa Theater board and Rebecca is the Development Director. Both are well-suited for their positions. Marianne has a long history of leadership roles, including sitting on the board of the Quilts of Valor® Foundation, and Rebecca has a BA in Film from the University of Iowa and a graduate degree in Art and Media Management. With such credentials, drive, passion and the community who helped fund the project backing these two women, the Iowa Theater will likely return as a pillar of the community for the 5,000+ people who call Winterset home.

For even more information, read Mary Fons’ Exclusive Interview: The Iowa Theater Three (Marianne, Mark, Rebecca).

Want to see Marianne’s latest featured quilt designs? Take a peek at Parade Rest in the Love of Quilting July/August 2017 issue and Concentric Squares in the Love of Quilting May/June 2017 issue.

Happy Quilting!





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