Jul 18, 2022 - News

Des Moines' Ingersoll Dinner Theater building gets new life following sale

Ingersoll Dinner Theater
A rendering of the front of the renovated Ingersoll Dinner Theater

The Ingersoll Dinner Theater is getting new life, thanks to a local developer who has purchased the property.

Why it matters: For nearly a decade, the historic theater has sat empty and become increasingly dilapidated.

  • Connor Delaney, the building's new owner, plans on restoring the structure for a potential tenant, while retaining its 1930s theater facade and nostalgia, he told Axios.
Ingersoll Dinner Theater
The current state of the interior of the theater. Photo courtesy of Connor Delaney

Driving the news: Delaney recently purchased the property from Lee Family Properties after eyeing it for years.

  • The building holds nostalgic value for Delaney, who used to frequent the theater with his grandmother and watch "Peter Pan" and "The Velveteen Rabbit."
  • He already revitalized the neighboring building that houses Bartender's Handshake and Loyal Sons.

State of play: The first phase of construction involves "stabilizing" the building, including constructing a new roof, improving the interior so it's up to code and digging further into the nooks and crannies of the structure.

  • Plans include remodeling the front of the building so it resembles its appearance back in 1939 when the theater first opened. A stone facade is covering the original exterior, which they plan to tear down, Delaney said.
  • While there aren't any specific plans yet for the interior or for a tenant, Delaney said he expects it to be a flexible venue that can accommodate concerts and weddings.
  • Construction is expected to finish in a year.
A historic photo of the exterior
The original exterior of the Ingersoll Dinner Theater, which opened in 1939. Photo courtesy of Connor Delaney

Of note: Lee Family Enterprise, who sold the building to Delaney, still maintains ownership of Manhatten Deli and Greenwood Lounge, which are attached.

The big picture: Redeveloping the theater adds to the long-term plans to improve The Avenues along Ingersoll and Grand Avenue and make it a unique stop in the metro.

  • "It's not just a theater — it's the Ingersoll Dinner Theater," said Lauren Kollauf, executive director of The Avenues. "It's historic, it's iconic. People are interested in it and they want to see it preserved and restored."
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