West Theatre

317 N. Central Avenue,
Duluth, MN 55807

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CJ1949
CJ1949 on July 26, 2014 at 3:43 pm

Construction started soon after the building permits were pulled in Sept. 1937. Do not go by “Motion Picture Almanac” and “Film Daily Yearbook” for these citations. Seating capacities are wrong 97% of the time and nailing down open/close dates by using those books is also very precarious. All they are good for is giving us a very ballpark idea of the existence of a theatre, and not much more than that. It’s a starting point for further research.

Chris1982
Chris1982 on June 20, 2014 at 5:08 pm

The first year that the West was listed as open was 1938.

nelsonexpert
nelsonexpert on December 27, 2010 at 11:19 pm

Some of the information given on the early Duluth theatres is wrong on CT so I will update it all at a later time when I have all of my research and notes together. The West Theatre was built in 1937. Before it opened, owner J. B. Clinton died, and partner Clarence Kaake, a property investor/realtor, eventually became sole owner in 1941. West Theatre closed in late 1950s, and was an on again/off again operation by then. Jake Musich reopened in ‘59, closed briefly in May 1966. Reopened as the DULUTH THEATRE with the first run of “Sound of Music” in June '66. (It later had the first run of “Doctor Zhivago”) From 1969 on, the theatre had several operators, usually the same operators also had the Granada in Duluth and the Beacon in Superior, WI. The Duluth Theatre had a very sketchy and unfocused film policy throughout the 1970s, ranging from soft to hard porn, first run major Hollywood features, and 2nd runs with a 99-cent policy. In the mid-70’s it was called the “Duluth Spirit Valley Theatre” in newspaper ads only because that area of town was trying to change its image (not successfully). In the early 70’s and again around '78-'80, the theatre would sometimes be closed for weeks or months at a time. Newspaper advertising was sometimes nonexistent. The last Hollywood features to play in the theatre appear to be January 1980; after that until 1981, there were showings of porn on an inconsistent basis. The building was mostly dormant from 1981 until a quilt shop opened in 1997.