40 S. 7th Street,
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Previously operated by: Finkelstein & Ruben
Previous Names: Miles Theatre, Garrick Theatre
News About This Theater
- Mar 20, 2009 — Remembering Cinerama (Part 23: Minneapolis)
The theatre known best as the Century Theatre originally opened as a 2,000 seat vaudeville house called the Miles Theatre at its opening on December 28, 1908, but it only lasted six years before closing. It was designed by the architectural firm Kees & Colburn.
In 1915, almost entirely rebuilt, it reopened as the Garrick Theatre, and was far more elegant than the Miles Theatre had been. Not only did it feature vaudeville and other live stage shows, but motion pictures as well.
In 1920, it was acquired by the Finkelstein & Ruben circuit. The Garrick Theatre remained in business until 1928, when it was closed once more.
In 1929, the architectural firm Liebenberg & Kaplan drew plans for a new theater. The Century Theatre was built in the shell of the Garrick Theatre, and was even more ornate, and was proclaimed the most up-to-date movie house west of Chicago when it opened in September 29, 1929. It sat a little over 1,600.
Its vertical marquee rose over 25 feet above the facade, and its marquee was ablaze with close to 4,500 lightbulbs. The interior was a stylish blend of French Renaissance and Art Deco.
However, the Depression hurt business at the Century Theatre, and it closed in 1931. It was open and closed a number of times more between 1931 and 1935.
For the remainder of the 1930’s and 1940’s, it played mostly second-run films which has previously had long runs at larger dowtown houses, as well as the occasional road show.
Again, the theatre closed in 1954, for a massive remodeling project which transformed it into the Century Cinerama. When it reopened, the Century Theatre would become only the eleventh theatre in the US to show Cinerama films. The Century Theatre was again gutted, and given a modern interior, and its seating again reduced, to 1,145. Its Cinerama screen was 72 by 28 feet. The first picture, "This Is Cinerama" was a tremendous hit, and soon rivaled the State Fair as a tourist attraction! It was estimated that the Century Cinerama brought millions to the Twin Cities' economy during the 1950’s.
In 1960, the Todd A-O process was installed, but Cinerama returned until 1963 when 70mm was installed for "Cleopatra", which would play the Century Theatre for over a year. Another long run the following year of "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" would be the Century Theatre’s swansong, and it was shuttered in late-1964.
Several weeks later, a fire broke out in the Century Theatre, and gutted it. It was demolished in February, 1965.
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