Clintonia Theater, Clinton Iowa

by Cheryl
(Chicago, IL)

Architect drawing Clintonia theater

Architect drawing Clintonia theater

Art Deco Theatre Mystery

I own this architect's drawing of the Clintonia theater in Clinton, Iowa. I'm hoping to find out more information about it, like was it ever built? Does it still exist? Some information on the back says the architect was named Axel Clausen, although the initials on the drawing look more like A.C.J. (AJC in monogram), and that it was built in 1937.

If anyone has any information, please leave a comment for Cheryl on this page. Thanks. Lesley at Decolish.

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Mar 30, 2022
Axel Claesson
by: Marilyn

Since submitting my previous comment, I have discovered information which indicates that Axel Claesson did, indeed, design the Lorraine Theatre 1937 remodel AND painted and donated the mural!! Now I feel comfortable with using that information during the centennial celebration.


Mar 30, 2022
Axel Clausson
by: Anonymous

I am on the board of the "Save the Lorraine Foundation" in Hoopeston, IL. We have a huge mural (6x10 more or less) signed by "Axel Claesson." We think it was probably painted for the 1937 art deco remodel of the theater which was built in 1922. I wonder if it might be possible that Mr. Claesson was an artist as well as an architect. We are about 50 miles from Clinton, IL and the style and timing would make this a possibility, I think. Do you have any further information on Claesson? We have a centennial "gala" scheduled for September 2022 and I am trying to find out anything I can about the mural.



Nov 05, 2012
Iowa or Illinois?
by: Cheryl

Thanks for your comment Magnaverde. I did run across this photo when I was trying to find out more info about this theatre. But, I didn't think the facade was a close enough match. Now that I've looked again, I agree with you. The theatre must be in Illinois, not Iowa. There is a note taped to the back of the frame that says Iowa, that's what sent me in that direction, but I don't know the history of where the drawing and frame came from, so I don't know who wrote that.

Lesley, can we get the title of this entry changed for the benefit of anyone plugging it into a search engine in the future?

I'm going to try to post the photos to that other site, maybe it will spur some more comment.

Oct 31, 2012
It's a match!
by: Magnaverde

Hi Cheryl

Yes, the Clintonia Theatre was built, and it stood in fairly decent condition until 1989, when part of it collapsed--but in Clinton, Illinois--not Clinton, Iowa.

In the 1970s I was passing through Batavia, Illinois and at alocal antique mall I came across a beautifully executed (and complete) set of colored elevations & sections of the entire place, showing the Art Deco murals in the lobby and the elaborate grillework that covered the big speakers in the streamlined auditorium. I was still in college at the time and so had no money, but when I got back to school, I called my folks and asked them to go to the shop and buy them for me, which they did--sort of. Actually, what they bought was a set of renderings of three different versions of the marquee, which renderings I had looked at and passed up. By the time they got ehm to me, and I realized the mixup, the pieces I wanted had already been sold. Oh, well.

Anyway, if you do a Google search on 'Clintonia' & 'demolished', you'll come across a newspaper photo of the theatre showing shows the same facade as your rendering, looming behind two former employees of the theatre, one of whom has worn a sweater with a design not unlike the theatre's grillework, just for the occasion.

When I was a kid, I thought the grilles were metal, but thirty years ago, when I spotted fragments of them jutting out of the rubble of the partially demolished theatre, you could tell that they were only jigsawed plywood that had been painted silver. Even so, they were stylish, or, at least, more stylish than anything else in Clinton.

Aug 07, 2012
Architect's name
by: Cheryl

Upon further research, I now believe the architect's name is Axel J. Claesson, not Clauson.

Thanks Cheryl. Let's hope someone knows something about Axel Clauson. Lesley

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