512 6th Street,
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Elks Theatre (Official)
Previously operated by: Black Hills Amusement Co., Commonwealth Amusement Corp., United Artists Theater Circuit Inc.
Architects: John P. Eisentraut
Functions: Movies (Second Run)
News About This Theater
- Mar 25, 2012 — Remodel brings 100-year-old theater lobby back to its youth
It used to belong to the Elks club and was a regular theatre. It was operating as a movie theatre named Elks Theatre from June 6, 1912. In October 1953 the Upper-Midwest Premiere of the Doris Day musical “Calamity Jane” was held at the Elks Theatre. At some point it was sold and turned into a second run movie theatre. It was closed on December 31, 1989.
It reopened on May 15, 1992. The main screen is huge and the sound quality fabulous. Around 2000 they added a second smaller screen on the third story where the offices used to be. The original architecture remains and there is a large balcony in the main theatre. It also has a ghost in the basement.
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Recent comments (view all 10 comments)
The 3rd floor theater is in the old ballroom. a virtual tour is available Elkstheatre.com
The Elks Theater riding high with Indiana Jones in 1989 – looks like the mini-false front has changed color over the years:
From 2010 a photo of the Elks Theatre along with another view here in Rapid City.
The book Rapid City: Historic Downtown Architecture attributes the design of the Elks Lodge and theater to Sioux City architect John P. Eisentraut.
Link to article about this restoration of this theater’s lobby
Here is the text of the article, which also contains photos of the work-in-progress:
Remodel brings 100-year-old theater lobby back to its youth
In honor of the Elks Theatre’s 100th birthday this summer, owner Curt Small is undertaking a year-long project to remodel the theater’s lobby, restoring it in a way he hopes will reflect the importance of the venue to the city’s history.
“So many cities just let theirs go,” Small said of historic theaters. “There was a time those theaters were the jewel of downtown.”
Most of the first phase was finished last week, removing a 1970s-era drop ceiling from the middle of the lobby and restoring the curved 1929 “barrel” ceiling underneath.
“It will give our customers a good preview of what’s to come,” Small said.
The restoration will continue throughout the year with changes to the lobby’s ticket counter area, concessions sales counter and the stairways leading to the balcony.
Small started working at the theater in 1994 and bought it in 2008. He has been itching to make changes, but said his budget is a fraction of what was available for some of the other major remodeling projects seen in downtown Rapid City in the last few years.
Next door, the north half of the Elks Building saw a major, multi-million dollar gut remodel last year by its new owner, law firm Gunderson, Palmer, Nelson & Ashmore.
Small told his contractor, Remodel-King Construction, “It takes a lot of $4 tickets” to fund his project, Remodel-King owner Scott Sogge said.
Sogge, formerly a member of the city’s Historic Preservation Commission, shares Small’s love of historic buildings and the theater in particular.
“If I want to see a movie, I wait and go to the Elks,” Sogge said, calling the theater “iconic.” The theater is known for showing second-run movies, independent films and classic films through its Sunday-evening Nostalgia Night Film Series.
“The experience is worth it to me,” Sogge said. “It’s the charm and the authenticity.”
Sogge said much of that charm was covered up over the years.
“It’s a sleeper,” Sogge said. “There’s a lot of beauty hidden behind that ceiling that we have now started to remove.”
The Rapid City Elks built their lodge from 1911 to 1912 at Sixth and Main streets, and included in it a large “opera house” for theatrical productions. But while the Elks fraternal organization stayed downtown until 1963, it sold the opera house portion of the building in 1920 to Art Rose, who sold it in 1925 to Black Hills Amusement Company, which brought the first “talkies” to Rapid City.
The theater changed hands again three times before Small bought it in 2008.
He is planning several events for the theater’s 100th birthday in June, including showing an original silent film along with the live piano music that once accompanied it.
Sogge said he’s glad the theater is in Small’s hands.
“He’s got a good passion and he’s there for a reason, and Rapid City’s got to hand it to him for having the perseverance to continue what he’s doing,” he said.
Contact Barbara Soderlin at 394-8417 or .
I’m currently working to get the state to let me reopen the former DM&E / Milwaukee Road railroad from Rapid City through the Badlands to Kadoka. I’ve restored theatres in the past and also own a production company and I’m looking for an old theatre to hold some fundraising concerts and events at. Does it have an old vaudeville or full size stage. Is it for rent for such? If you know the owner, have him contact me. Thank You!
This opened on June 6th, 1912 according to this clipping.
Found on Newspapers.com
In addition to second-run films, this theatre is also screening classic films and documentaries.
Opened with “The flirting princess”.
Closed December 31st, 1989 and reopened on May 15th, 1992 per
Elks Theatre reopeningng Thu, May 14, 1992 – 1 · Rapid City Journal (Rapid City, South Dakota) · Newspapers.com