Gopher Theatre

619 Hennepin Avenue,
Minneapolis, MN 55403

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Gopher Theatre

When it opened in 1911, the Grand Theatre, or New Grand Theatre as it was briefly called, was a vaudeville house, but by the 1920’s, was showing movies only. It was part of the F & R circuit. The Grand Theatre was wired for sound in 1928, but by 1936 had closed.

Two years later, it was completely remodeled, in Art Moderne style, seating around 1,000, and opening as the Gopher Theatre on October 29, 1938. The name was chosen by a contest, and comes from the University of Minnesota’s Golden Gophers football team.

Unlike its Neo-Classical predecessor, the Gopher Theatre was then-very modern looking. It featured the colors of the University of Minnesota, maroon and gold on its Vitrolite exterior and tall tower-style marquee. The interior was done in shades of white and pink.

Though it was a downtown movie house, it originally never played the big hits, though it did host a 1941 live appearance by Gene Autry which drew a large crowd.

In 1949, the Gopher Theatre was purchased from F & R by a new owner, who began a policy of screening first-run films, which continued into the 1970’s.

By the mid-1970’s, however, the Gopher Theatre was a porno house, and was closed in 1979. It was torn down soon afterwards.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 21 comments)

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on August 17, 2007 at 8:04 am

I’ve never seen a marquee and verticle sign like that. Wow!

dhowell on October 15, 2008 at 2:36 pm

It looks as if they are back in business as a theatre. They have show times available @ 320-563-0315.

They are playing “Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist” as of today.

dhowell on October 15, 2008 at 2:45 pm

Scratch that last comment…it was the Gopher in Wheaton I was referring to. (Sorry guys)

TLSLOEWS on November 2, 2009 at 5:52 pm

Gopher what a name, nice looking movie house though.

TLSLOEWS on November 2, 2009 at 5:54 pm

Maybe they should call it the Grand Gopher.

chappo52 on June 12, 2013 at 4:45 pm

All of the Sean Connery-era Bond films played at the Orpheum on their first run. The Gopher may have become a porn theater but it was the first run theater for Jaws in ‘75. As I recall, Jaws played their exclusively from June to late fall or early winter of 75.

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on February 24, 2014 at 8:41 am

As The Grand Theatre, the hall had a small Wurlitzer pipe organ installed in 1926. Wurlitzer’s opus 1374 was a style B special with 2 manuals and 5 ranks of pipes. The top of the console is visible in the photo link posted by Lost Memory.

Supr8 on June 16, 2015 at 3:39 pm

The “Gopher” visible on the postcard on display at the time of this comment is not the theater, it’s a similarly and unrelated café. The theater is technically – but not practically – visible on the card. Both establishments were on the east side of Hennepin; the theater was between 6th and 7th Streets while the café was between 8th and 9th. This card is looking north from 10th.

Supr8 on July 4, 2015 at 5:02 pm

Here is a proper photo of the Gopher. From 1938:

rivest266 on January 15, 2017 at 6:25 am

October 29th, 1938 grand opening ad as Gopher in the photo section.

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