Shores Acre Ballroom

2006 - Ballroom

Land along the Missouri River in the Riverside section of Sioux City was leased in 1905 to build the Commercial Men’s Boat Club. The purpose of the club was similar to that of a country club today and it included both men and women as members. Constructed for $10,000, the building included a large open dance hall, parlors, smoking rooms and locker rooms on the first floor, with showers and a dressing room in the basement. The second story provided card and billiard rooms, women’s retiring room and bathrooms. With outdoor tennis courts, croquet fields and canoe docks, it was an immensely popular place. However in 1911 fire totally destroyed the building.

The club members purchased the leased land, built a new structure in 60 days and named it Shore Acres Boat Club. It was a single story structure this time and operated until bankruptcy hit in 1928.

In 1935 Tom Archer rented and remodeled the building to use as a dance hall. Archer was a well-known promoter of big bands. In ’37 a revolving stage was added along with a new outside dance floor. The stage was turned around for evening dances outside. By using both inside and outside dance floors, Shore Acres could accommodate more than 1000 people.

The ballroom featured all the big bands during the 40’s such as Glenn Miller, Count Basie, Lawrence Welk, Skitch Henderson, Louis Armstrong and countless others. Attendees could take a streetcar to the ballroom as the tracks ran across the front of the property.

1955 brought an extensive remodeling project that made the structure usable year round. Heating and air conditioning were installed along with more than 3,000 feet of neon lighting. The dance floor was extended to 9000 square feet so the ballroom now accommodated 1450 people ready to embrace rock and roll.

With the advent of rock and roll, Shore Acres played host to many stars such as Chubby Checker and the Beach Boys. Many Iowa Hall of Fame bands fondly recall playing at Shore Acres Ballroom. Owner Tom Archer and promoter Eddie Skeets kept the ballroom hopping until Archer’s death in 1963. His widow sold the ballroom in 1966 to the Sioux City Community Theatre. It still operates today as the home of the community theatre.

 

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