The original RKO Orpheum was built in 1914 and was located further west on Main Street. In 1927 it went out of business. When the second RKO Orpheum was built in 1948, it was the first post WWII Theater that was built in the nation by the Radio Keith Orpheum Company. RKO was a studio giant in the golden age of Hollywood. Built on the site of the old Steam and Dye Works, the new theater included a coffee shop and the most modern cooling plant in Iowa. Open in June 1949, the Orpheum was an elegant example of the Arte Moderne architectural style and is today a member of the League of Historic American Theaters.
In the 1980s, the Orpheum was closed, then re-opened as a duplex theater in 1984. By 2000 the theater had become part of the Fridley Theater group but closed its doors in 2001. At that time a group of concerned citizens who desired to save the structure formed a nonprofit group to "save our screens" (SOS Campaign). It took ten years, a Vision Iowa grant, a Main Street grant, a passed bond issue, and thousands of individual, corporate and foundation dollars to once again open the Orpheum doors as the newly restored and re-designed $3.4 million-dollar Orpheum Theater Center, owned and operated by the Iowa Valley Community College District.