El Lago Theater
Address: 3500-06 East Lake Street
Construction Date: 1927
Contractor: Fred Wick
Architect: Ekman Holm & Co.
Architectural Style: Exotic Revival
Historic Use: Culture/Recreation – Motion Picture Theater
Current Use: Religious facility
Date of Local Designation: 1990
Date of National Register Designation: N/A
Area(s) of Significance: Architecture
Period of Significance: 1900 -
Historic Profile: The El Lago Theater, with its romantically exotic façade, was a house of entertainment, fantasy, and escape for many Longfellow residents. While difficult to categorize architecturally, some have described it as "a 1920s interpretation of sixteenth-century Italian, with a Georgian, almost Baroque façade." Located on a once busy streetcar line, this theater was centrally located to draw patrons from Longfellow and surrounding neighborhoods. Construction began in 1927, but the financial constraints of the Depression delayed the theater’s opening until 1933. While it was extremely successful in its early years, the increasing popularity of television, as well as the disabling of the streetcar network in the late 1950s, led to the eventual demise of the El Lago. The theater served the community for nearly forty years, for a short period with silent movies, and then with "talkies". It closed in 1966 and sat vacant for several years until, ironically, the El Lago building was re-inhabited by a television dealership. It currently (2007) houses the Victory Christian Center.
Circa 1980, Unknown
2006, Minneapolis CPED
City of Minneapolis, "National Register of Historic Places – Nomination Form," December 1982.
Updated: April 2011
Last updated Jan. 2, 2014