Hardacre Theater earns place on National Register

It’s official: the Hardacre Theater is one for the ages.

The Hardacre Theater is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, following a lengthy application process. The designation was awarded by the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and the federal National Parks Service. The National Register is the federal government’s official list of historic properties worthy of preservation.

A listing on the National Register opens opportunities for federal and state historic preservation grants and tax credits, two potentially major sources of revenue for the theater’s renovation.

“We always considered the theater’s National Register listing a slam dunk, and we’re thrilled the government agreed with us,” said Greg Brown, president of the Hardacre Theater Preservation Association (HTPA). “The designation is a win for the theater, the city and the county. Our next step is to renovate and reopen the theater and make history come alive again.”

The application process for the theater’s listing consisted of more than a year of historical research, followed by a defense of the theater’s application to the state board last October. It was approved and sent to the National Parks Service, which gave the final approval in December. The HTPA was notified this month.

Properties on the register must satisfy two categories of criteria:

  • Age and integrity: Is the property old enough to be considered historic (generally 50 years or older) and does it look much like it did in the past?
  • Significance: Does the property reflect important historical developments, events, individuals, architecture, achievements and/or archeological investigation of our country’s past?  

The theater is now one of eight Tipton properties listed on the National Register, and one of 20 listed in Cedar County. The last Cedar County property to be listed was the Red Oak Grove Presbyterian Church and Cemetery in 2010.

The Hardacre Theater Preservation Association, which purchased the property with donor funds and was the primary driver of the National Register application, will acquire a plaque commemorating the National Register listing for the outside of the theater. The group plans to unveil the plaque at the Hardacre Century Celebration April 23, an event celebrating the theater’s 100th birthday this April.