Gopher Theatre

211 N. Broadway,
Crookston, MN 56716

Unfavorite No one has favorited this theater yet

| Street View

The Gopher Theatre was located on Broadway between Second Street and Third Street. It opened in the early-1940’s with seating listed at 700. I could not find any info on the owner/operator.

The Gopher Theatre closed in the early-1960’s and is now used for Financial Services Offices. Any further information on this theatre would be appreciated.

Contributed by Chuck

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 22, 2010 at 8:09 am

The original owners of the Gopher were C.L. and Ernotte Hiller, also operators of the older Grand Theatre in Crookston. Boxoffice of October 12, 1940, said that the Gopher had opened recently, with 706 seats. It also had a magic fountain, though Boxoffice gave no details about this remarkable feature. Perhaps living in Hollywood had left them jaded about such things.

An April 17, 1937, Boxoffice item had said that the Grand, Lyric and Royale theaters at Crookston were all operated by the Northern States Amusement Company, which had bought a site for a new 800-seat theater in Crookston. I’ve been unable to confirm that this was the house that eventually opened as the Gopher, but if it was then it was designed by Liebenberg and Kaplan.

In 1956, Ernotte and Mrs. C.L. Hiller (C.L. himself had died the previous year) were operating two theaters at Crookston, and were planning to build a drive-in. Boxoffice of March 3 that year said that during the drive-in season the Hillers would close one of the hardtops. I haven’t found the Gopher mentioned in Boxoffice later than that, so maybe they decided to close it permanently.

Trolleyguy
Trolleyguy on February 22, 2010 at 4:44 pm

Maybe it has the name because Minnesota is known far and wide as “The Gopher State.” Additionally, there are three other Gopher theaters in Minnesota listed on this website.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on February 22, 2010 at 5:15 pm

I bet there are more Gophers by now.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 1, 2012 at 6:54 pm

A pencil drawing of the Gopher Theatre at Crookston, dated 1940, is listed among the papers of architects Liebenberg & Kaplan at the University of Minnesota library, so the firm probably did design the house.

The Gopher must have been in operation at least as late as 1963. A courtesy advertisement in the 1963 edition of the University of Minnesota Northwest School of Agriculture’s annual, The Aggie, reads “Compliments of Grand and Gopher Theaters.”

I think the Gopher has been either completely or partly demolished. 211 N. Broadway is currently listed as the location of an outfit called Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. I can' tell from Street View if the address is in the modern Bremer Bank building on the corner of 2nd Street, or the smaller building next door. The smaller building looks old enough to have been around in the 1940s, but it isn’t deep enough to have accommodated a 700-seat theater. It’s possible that this was the front of the theater but that the rear part of the auditorium was demolished and the rest of it converted into offices. Either way, the Gopher Theatre is gone. I guess the magic of the “Magic Fountain” wasn’t strong enough to save the place.

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment

Subscribe Want to be emailed when a new comment is posted about this theater?
Just login to your account and subscribe to this theater