the days before motion pictures and television, a large
number of theatre troupes and vaudeville acts toured the
country. In 1900, for example, 339 theatre companies were
traveling from town to town across the United States. Frank
Cotton built this theatre in 1909-1910, just as the popularity
of traveling companies was starting to decline. The Cotton
Theatre could accommodate about a thousand persons and was
designed to accommodate the elaborate sets and scenery that
were typical of the pre-World War I theatre.
performance took place on June 23, 1910, when May Robson
starred in a performance of The Rejuvenation of Aunt Mary.
During the theatre's first season, more than 40 plays were
performed here, including modern comedies as well as Shakespeare.
It soon became
clear, however, that Cedar Falls could not support a live
theatre. Cotton sold out in 1913. Subsequent owners also
had trouble attracting an audience, due in part to competition
from the Grand and Empress motion picture theatres in Cedar
Falls. The Cotton Theatre changed hands several times before
it too became a motion picture house, the Regent Theatre,
in 1918. By that time the number of traveling companies
in America had been reduced to just 41.
has had extensive refurbishing. It is once again a “live”
theatre. It is listed on the National Register of Historic
Oster Regent Theatre: Home of the Cedar Falls Community
Theatre site on CedarNet