534 Ashmun Street,
Sault Ste. Marie,
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Built in 1929 to vaudeville house plans with full stage, flyspace, dressing rooms beneath stage, twin organ lofts (organ never installed), and orchestra pit, the Soo is the only remaining vintage house in the eastern end of Upper Michigan and the only venue in the area that offers the flyspace needed for full scenic productions.
As late as the early 1970’s it was used as a live performance house in addition to cinema. In 1974 a huge concrete wall divided the auditorium into a duplex cinema for film only. The Soo closed its doors in 1998, the victim of a newly-opened faceless multiplex on the outskirts of town. The final film showing was “The Wizard Of Oz” with five patrons in attendance.
After several proposals for the adaptive reuse of the building, in 2003 it was acquired by Soo Theatre Project, Inc., a local non-profit group dedicated to its renovation and restoration as a community performing arts facility.
A recent Michigan Cool Cities grant has permitted remodelling of the theatre’s retail space as a regional performing arts school, opened in September 2005.
Renovation of the auditorium, stage and lobbies awaits major funding. In the meantime, the dividing wall has been demolished by local volunteer labour, and plans are underway to place the Soo into limited operation as a summer theatre venue.
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