Hennepin Theatre

Individual Landmark

Orpheum Theater - Interior and Exterior

 

 Hennepin_Ave_910_Orpheum_Theatre-1
1930

 Hennepin_Ave_910_Orpheum_Theatre-2
Circa 2002-2007

Address: 910 Hennepin Avenue

Neighborhood: Downtown West

Construction Date: 1920-21

Contractor: Thompson-Starrett Company

Architect: Kirchhoff and Rose

Architectural Style: Beaux-Arts

Historic Use: Culture/Recreation – Performing Arts Theater

Current Use: Culture/Recreation – Performing Arts Theater

Date of Local Designation: 1986

Date of National Register Designation: N/A

Area(s) of Significance: Social History; Architecture

Period of Significance: 1921-1945

Historic Profile: When the Hennepin Theatre opened its doors in 1921, it was the second largest vaudeville theater in the nation, with a capacity of 2,741 people. The best seats in the house sold for only 47 cents. With its palatial auditorium and ornate lobby, the Hennepin typifies the extravagance with which vaudeville theaters were designed and constructed. The façade of the theater, designed in the Beaux-Arts style, is colorful and heavily ornamented. Similarly, the lobby with its terrazzo floors, solid brass light fixtures, and intricately molded plaster was lavish. The auditorium’s coffered ceiling and a recessed dome, feature a wide proscenium stage. Owned by the Orpheum Circuit, a company responsible for booking and operating theaters throughout the western part of the country, the Hennepin drew major vaudeville acts such as George Jessel, Jack Benny, "Dainty June" Havoc, and many more. In the 1930s, talking motion pictures replaced vaudeville at the Hennepin, and beginning in 1937, the primary attraction was the appearance of live orchestra onstage. In 1959, local theater entrepreneur Ted Mann purchased the Hennepin, attracting an average of twelve Broadway touring productions each year until 1965. The Orpheum still brings in Broadway shows as well as rock concerts, performance artists, jazz presentations, beauty contests, corporate meetings, and public service events.

Photo Credits:

1930, Lee Brothers, courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society

Circa 2002-2007, Courtesy of the Hennepin Theatre District

Works Cited:

"National Register of Historic Places – Nomination Form," December 1985.

Updated: February 2007

Last updated Nov 23, 2011