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SIOUX CITY | Before the Sioux City Community Theatre was the host of musicals like "Legally Blonde" and "Les Miserables," it was a year-round ballroom known by another name: Shore Acres.
It was the home to acts like Lawrence Welk, Louis Armstrong, The Beach Boys and The Everly Brothers. But the area's history dates back to 1905 when a section of land along the Big Sioux River was leased to build the Commercial Men's Boat Club. Despite the name, its members included both men and women.
The building, at 1401 Riverside Blvd., included a large open dance hall, smoking rooms and parlors on the first floor. The second story had card and billiard rooms and bathrooms. Outside of the building were tennis courts, croquet fields and canoe docks.
It was the place to be until 1911 when a fire destroyed the whole building. However, determined club members rallied together and built a new structure in 60 days and named it Shore Acres Boat Club. This time is was a single-story structure and remained in business until bankruptcy hit in 1928.
In 1935, a man named Tom Archer remodeled the building to use as a dance hall. A couple of years later, he added a revolving stage and an outside dance floor. Using both the inside and outside dance floors, Shore Acres could accommodate more than 1,000 people at a show.
In the 1940s, Shore Acres Ballroom was the home of many big name acts of the time like Skitch Henderson, Glenn Miller and Count Basie. In 1955, the building was remodeled extensively to be used year round. More than 3,000 feet of neon lighting was installed along with extending the dance floor to 9,000 square feet to house 1,450 people.
When the wave of rock 'n roll finally hit Sioux City, Shore Acres hosted acts like Chubby Checker and Conway Twitty, whose performance was so rowdy he was told not to come back.
Archer and promoter Eddie Skeets kept the ballroom hopping until Archer's death in 1963. Shore Acres Ballroom closed its doors in 1965. Archer's widow sold the building to the Sioux City Community Theatre a year later.
The ballroom was recognized and inducted into the Iowa Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.