Winona Theatre

167 Johnson Street,
Winona, MN 55987

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Built and opened as the Opera House on December 5, 1892. In December 1925 it was renamed State Theatre, but this didn’t last long, as in September 1926 it was renamed Winona Theatre and opened as a movie theatre. It was operated by Minnesota Amusement Co. (Publix) from the early-1930’s, and was remodelled in the late-1930’s and again in 1950 to the plans of architectural firm Liebenberg & Kaplan. It closed in the 1970’s. It later became a restaurant and bar called Emils. It was demolished in 1990.

Contributed by Chuck

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 23, 2009 at 2:21 am

Movie Age of November 30, 1929 said that the Winona Theatre, extensively remodeled, had reopened and was the second theater in town to install sound. The item also made reference to “…the atmospheric State Theatre in Winona” where improvements to the projection booth costing $5,000 were underway. The State appears to have been the town’s “A” house.

A picture postcard dated 1908, showing the Winona Theatre when it was still the Winona Opera House, can be seen on this page (sixth card from the top.) The splendid Richardsonian Romanesque facade suggests that it was constructed in the 1880s or 1890s.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 11, 2010 at 4:32 am

Either many additional pictures have been added to the Winona gallery to which I linked in my comment of December 23, 2009, or the pictures have been rearranged. The 1908 photo showing the Winona Opera House in no longer 6th from the top of the page, but 21st from the top.

Better, it’s now possible to link to individual images in the gallery, so here’s the Winona Opera House, 1908.

winonakid on September 23, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Your closing dates are incorrect. Both the Winona and the State theaters were open at least until the late 1970s. I saw several movies at both as a kid in the 1970s.

winonakid on September 24, 2013 at 5:25 am

The Winona Opera House was built in 1892. I’ve found movie listings as early as 1926. The building was demolished in 1990.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 24, 2013 at 4:33 pm

It’s possible that this house was never called the Colonial Theatre. Winona, by Walter Bennick, has a photo (bottom of page 113 of the Google Books preview) showing the opening of the Colonial Theatre on August 29, 1912. The Colonial Amusement Company leased the Winona Opera House in 1915, according to an item in the November 6 issue of The Moving Picture World, which said that the company was operating the house as a movie theater.

I’ve been unable to establish a timeline for the Colonial Theatre, but it appears to have still been operating in the mid-1930s when the Winona Theatre had already become a Paramount-Publix house.

winonakid on September 25, 2013 at 11:05 am

I’ve found ads from as early as 1915 that show the Winona Opera House showing movies (in addition to the usual live musicals and vaudeville shows).

winonakid on September 25, 2013 at 12:30 pm

The Winona Opera House opened on Monday, December 5, 1892. The first play presented that night was “By Proxy”.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 25, 2013 at 7:17 pm

The finding aid to the Liebenberg & Kaplan papers indicates that the firm worked on the Winona Theatre during the years 1936-1940 and again in 1950. One of those projects was probably the one in which the original Romanesque Revival facade was covered by one in the Streamline Modern style.

winonakid on September 26, 2013 at 3:43 am

As I stated before, the Opera House did show movies as early as 1915 (I found an ad for “Birth Of A Nation”). After it became the Winona Theater, they did continue to stage plays in addition to showing movies. I attended some plays there as late as the 1970s.

winonakid on September 28, 2013 at 1:46 am

The Opera House changed name to the State Theatre in December 1925. The Apollo Theatre took the State Theatre name and this theater was named the Winona Theatre in September 1926.

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