Hopkins Theatre

429 Excelsior Avenue,
Hopkins, MN 55343

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Hopkins Theatre

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The Hopkins Theatre opened in 1941, just before America’s entry into WWII, and was built for Louis and Abe Engler in a then-boldly modern Streamline style by architect Perry E. Crosier.

The theater could seat 1,250, in orchestra and balcony levels. It was both elegant as well as high-tech for its time. The most impressive feature of the Hopkins Theatre was its 80 foot-plus tall rocket-like tower, which was illuminated by neon lights, spelling out the theater’s name. It could be seen for blocks around.

Other features included a waterfall-patterned red curtain, a sound-proof crying room for mothers with babies, and a set of smoking lounges. The theater cost about $125,000 to build, and was touted as the best new suburban house to open in the Saint Paul-Minneapolis area.

Opening night in October 1941 featured a live stage show and a movie, “Kiss the Boys Goodbye”, but it wasn’t until after the US entered the war that attendance began to pick up at the Hopkins Theatre.

The theater has the distinction of being the first Twin Cities area movie house to be twinned, in early 1971, when the 300-seat balcony was closed off and turned into the Hopkins 2, while the main auditorium became the Hopkins 1. A year later, an adjacent store was gutted and turned into a third auditorium. In 1981, a fourth screen was added when another store was taken over by the Hopkins Theatre.

The Hopkins Theatre also was one of the earliest suburban theaters to feature CinemaScope. For the 1977 film “Rollercoaster”, the management had Sensurround installed.

After more than four decades of entertaining suburban movie-goers, the Hopkins Theatre shut its doors in 1985 and was torn down soon afterwards.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

idleclass on August 9, 2016 at 7:08 pm

The location in the Google map is wrong. I was born in the forties and this wonderful theater was my local Sat. Matinee theater, only about 3 ½ blocks from my house. Excelsior Blvd used to go through Hopkins where it was named Excelsior Ave. Sometime after the Sixties a new freeway, 169, was run through and Excelsior Blvd was diverted and later Excelsior Ave was renamed to Main Street. The map shows the location on the current Excelsior Blvd. I entered 429 Main Street and got the correct location of the old theater. https://www.google.com/maps/place/429+Mainstreet,+Hopkins,+MN+55343/United Palace of Cultural Arts.9244053,-93.4050505,16z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x87f6203bdf6a8d61:0x7fef486cb1e8adb6

idleclass on August 9, 2016 at 7:10 pm

Oops I had something extra in the Google Map link. Here is the correct link to the old location. https://www.google.com/maps/place/429+Mainstreet,+Hopkins,+MN+55343/

rivest266 on January 16, 2017 at 3:20 am

September 5th, 1941, September 23rd, 1971, January 27th, 1973, March 13th, 1981 grand opening ads in the photo section.

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