17 W. 7th Place,
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This theatre opened November 27, 1916 as the New Palace Theatre and could seat 3,000. It was built on the site of the old St. Paul Public Library which burned down a couple years earlier. The architects were Henry Orth and Charles Buechner and the Palace Theatre was part of the Finkelstein & Ruben circuit.
Opening day newspaper advertisements gushed about the “New Palace” calling it, “The Show Spot of St. Paul”, “St. Paul’s Own Palace Beautiful” and “A Delight to the Artistic Eye”. Finkelstein & Ruben supposedly told their architects that they wanted the Palace Theatre to resemble a theatre they saw and liked in Buffalo, New York, the Shea’s Hippodrome Theatre.
In 1922, the name of the theatre was changed to the Palace-Orpheum Theatre after it became part of the Orpheum vaudeville circuit. However, three years later, when vaudeville was dropped in favor of movies only, the name became simply the Orpheum Theatre (later the RKO Orpheum).
In the 1940’s, RKO remodeled the Orpheum Theatre, including a new lobby, facade and signage and greatly reduced seating (to 1,400). Twelve years later, Ted Mann purchased the theatre from RKO. First run films ended at the Orpheum Theatre in 1977. For a few years, the theatre was open sporadically showing classic films, but closed permanently in 1984.
The historic theatre – once a prominent spot for nightlife in the city of St. Paul – stands today in disrepair and its future remains uncertain.
In November 2013, it was announced that a £12 million renovation was planned to convert the Orpheum Theatre into a live music venue, which opened March 10, 2017.
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