Northwest Corner of Square

Orpheum Theater, Fairfield, Iowa.

Orpheum Theatre, Fairfield, Iowa, above.

Orpheum Theater, Fairfield, Iowa, detail.

Details of above photo, left.
Top: Customers linger at the back door
Bottom: Sign: “Big Show To-Night”

118-122 North Main Street, Fairfield, IA.

Above: Standing proudly at Main and Briggs Streets’ southwest corner in 1909 was Fairfield’s Grand Opera House, built in 1890 by J. E. Roth, J. S. Richardson, J. S. McKemey, and E. A. Howard. Ornately designed by Burlington architect Charles A. Dunham, it was Fairfield’s second theater, built seven years after the Odd Fellows had purchased Semon’s old opera house at 50-52 W. Burlington and converted it into their lodge. Among the Grand Opera building’s other tenants in 1909 were Jeff Griffith and Henry Pierson’s plumbing company at 118 North Main Street (shown at left, above), Joe Buckley’s cigar store, and Walt Whitman’s barber shop. Under its final owner Louis Thoma, the Grand Opera House was already transitioning from acting companies to silent films when an electrical fire destroyed it on May 18, 1909. Select here for a brief biography of Louis Thoma. The following year saw the birth of Fairfield’s third theater: the Orpheum, now known as The Co-Ed, at 119-123 W. Broadway.

Below: Rebuilt in 1914 by Charles L. Cox, the new building at 118-122 N. Main hosted the Fairfield Motor Co., the Brown Motor Co., and Easton Motor Sales in succession through the 1920s, followed by the Reliable Department Store and Leach Hatcheries in the 1930s, Benteco Supermarket in the 1940s, Benner Food Store and Brainard Pontiac in the 1950s, Wulff’s Furniture in the 1960s, Gibson’s Discount Center department store and the Big ‘o’ Factory Outlet in the early 1970s, and the Tribune Printing Co. from 1980 to the present.

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119-123 West Broadway, Fairfield, IA.

Above: Shown here amidst gracious trees and residences shortly after it was built in 1910 by Harry I. Ball, the Orpheum Theatre building also contained apartments and businesses, including Leslie E. Clinkenbeard’s clothing store under the awning at the right.

Below: A century later, the houses across 2nd Street have been replaced by a florist shop and a Mexican restaurant, but the Co-Ed Theater building is still showing movies to appreciative audiences. The ground-floor facade has been altered considerably, but the cornice and upstairs windows are still recognizable.

Co-ed Theater, Red Rock Tavern, Walkers Office Supplies, Fairfield, IA.

Co-ed Theater, Fairfield, IA.

Hotel Turner, Fairfield, Iowa.
Located at 200 North Main Street where the Fairfield Arts and Convention Center now stands, the Turner Hotel offered Fairfield’s finest accommodations and a widely-renowned restaurant for nearly thirty years.

As early as 1911 it was called the Court Hotel, probably for its proximity to the Courthouse, but was considered a second-class hostelry before Mrs. May Bean Turner refurbished and rechristened it in the mid-1930s. May was already famed for her cuisine as a cook for the old Leggett House, and the elegant new Turner Hotel became the place to meet for a chicken dinner after church, as well as the place of choice for wedding receptions. Her daughter Hazel and son-in-law John M. Montgomery (son of Presbyterian minister Willis W. Montgomery) managed the restaurant and the Hotel Turner in 1937; they lived nearby at 107 East Briggs Street.

Pressed for space to house its burgeoning student population, Parsons College was leasing the Turner Hotel for a dormitory when it burned down on December 27, 1967. Fortunately, all the students had left for Christmas and the hotel was empty. An exhibit of Parsons College memorabilia now occupies this corner of the F.A.C.C.

Who is A. B. Mullenix, the man driving the two-horse carriage?

Asher (“Ash”) B. Mullenix was born in Illinois in 1863 to Margaret (Long) and John P. Mullenix, who was a veteran of the Civil War and a “lightning rodder.” In 1881 John moved his family from Oswego, Illinois to Fairfield, where he sold insurance for Cedar Rapids Life Insurance and Phoenix Fire Insurance of New York.

Ash & Cash Mullenix

For many years around 1900 Ash was a barber on W. Broadway, Fairfield Iowa near the northwest corner of Fairfield’s Square, like his older brother Cassius (“Cash”), who had been a barber here since the 1880s. An old picture of Cash’s barbershop, just west of 101 W Broadway, was in the Fairfield Ledger, Oct. 2nd, 1939, page F-3.

In 1910 Ash appeared in the U. S. Census as an informal barber and [insurance] solicitor. In 1917 Ash was still a barber at 109 W. Broadway, but by 1920 he and his wife Mary had moved from 604 W. Burlington to farm in Round Prairie Township southeast of Fairfield, Iowa. During the 1920s they moved again to Los Angeles County, California, where Ash died in 1942.

Ash’s sons Frank C. and Augustus R. (“Gus”) Mullenix carried on the family business, cutting hair together in 1911 at 102 W. Broadway, Fairfield, Iowa. Gus’s barber shop was at 107 W. Broadway in the early 1920s.

By 1923 Frank had moved his barber shop to Phoenix, Arizona, and by 1927 Gus had quit barbering to run the old Kozy Kafe restaurant at 100 W. Burlington, Fairfield, Iowa.


The company Ash Mullenix represented, Great Western Accident Insurance Co. of Des Moines, was organized in 1901 and reincorporated as a stock company in 1914. In 1921 it increased its capital from $100,000 to $200,000. H. B. Hawley was then its president and general manager; W. B. Tallman was vice-president.