Terrace Theater

3508 France Avenue N,
Robbinsdale, MN 55422

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Terrace Theater

Viewing: Photo | Street View

When it opened in 1951, at the beginning of the television era, the 1,300-seat Terrace Theater in Robbinsdale was the first (and largest) suburban movie house to be constructed in the Minneapolis area since the end of WWII. It was opened for Sidney and William Volk (who also operated the Riverview, Nile and Camden Theaters) at a cost of over $600,000, one of the most dramatic and elegant movie palaces built since the 1920’s in the Twin Cities.

The Terrace Theater was built on a small hill, overlooking a sprawling landscaped area, with a huge parking lot, with room for more than 1,000 cars. The International-style theater’s exterior was made up of a series of rectangles, with the only vertical one serving as a tower-like marquee, topped by the theater’s name in bold letters, visible from both highways the theater sat between.

The Volks spared no expense in making the Terrace Theater the most luxurious, comfortable and up-to-date theater in suburban Minneapolis-St. Paul. Like the palaces of two and three decades before, it contained a good-sized auditorium, sweeping foyers, a large lobby space, but with the casual look of an upper-middle class 1950’s home, complete with a sunken “garden style” lounge containing plant boxes and a huge copper fireplace. Overlooking the rolling lawn outside on the far end of the lobby was a wall of floor to ceiling windows.

One unusual and very popular feature of the Terrace Theater was its television room, complete with sofas, chairs and a large color television. It was common for husbands and fathers to watch a ball game here while their wives watched a romantic tear-jerker or their children the latest Disney offering.

In the 1970’s, the Terrace Theater had 70mm equipment installed, and became one of the best of the suburban theaters to see the big action-filled blockbusters of that decade, which were better appreciated on a huge screen.

During the late-1980’s, the Terrace Theater was triplexed. Unfortunately, this rare 1950’s movie palace has been shuttered now for many years, its fate still undecided.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 39 comments)

wisdoug on December 11, 2008 at 8:14 pm

Is there any recent hope for this gem? It truly is a beauty!

tomnjeri on March 10, 2009 at 9:39 am

First, let me tell the usher that I saw Star Wars at the Terrace, in ‘81 or '82 as a rerun after “The Empire Strikes Back” was released.

Anyhow, I would love to see the Terrace fixed up and used as a theater or similar venue. I have seen a lot of other people come and go that would also like this. It seems like everyone who wants it has no way to pay for it. Some even think the city should pitch in. I am not a fan of government intervention in such things, and I also know that the City of Robbinsdale does not have the resources to finance it at this time.

Maybe a group could start raising funds for it and get something going. I would love to meet with interested parties, if they are willing to do the work.

TLSLOEWS on July 22, 2010 at 8:23 pm

Nice photos of the Terrace Theatre.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on July 22, 2010 at 9:52 pm

Thanks Chuck 1231 for the pictures.

westar1 on November 10, 2010 at 1:04 am

A co-worker & I were talking about how it would keep in tradition with the theater to turn it into a Educational/Production Studio where Jr. High & Sr. High school students could come and learn about film and audio production.

As where it would be an educational opportunity, there may be funding available in the form of Grants. If the City of Robbinsdale would have an interest in joining in, it would be a way to keep kids off the street and give them a positive thing to do while learning what it takes to make a film or video like the ones shown at the theater.

Time will tell?

S.P. Dworakoski
Future CEO
Westar Pictures LLC.

Brooks on March 12, 2012 at 9:42 pm

I lived in Robbinsdale and remember the opening of the theater. They had the big lights sweeping the sky. The first movie was “King Solomon’s Mines” starring Stewart Granger. There was a TV room with a 17" TV. The was a picture gallery with autographed photos of all the big movie stars. The drinking fountains were hammered copper. They had two “crying rooms” too.

Most of my high school dates were at the Terrace theater.

LanceD on March 23, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Here’s a great post about the Terrace from a fan. – http://www.brianorndorf.com/2009/02/the-terrace-theater-in-robbinsdale-minnesota-19511999.html

Here’s a second with even more pictures. – http://www.brianorndorf.com/2011/01/the-terrace-theater-in-robbinsdale-minnesota-take-two.html

I think the pictures used here on CT are from this guy.

delow on May 17, 2012 at 5:41 pm

Does anyone know if the theater is for sale?

lfrasso on September 24, 2012 at 5:11 pm

delow – the theater is not for sale, but it is for lease. If you’re interested, it’s owned by Brixmor 800-468-7526. Much of the lobby is still in tact but all of the seating has been removed. The place would need a lot of work to get it going again.

alysiadavid on February 26, 2015 at 2:22 pm

Community support to save this great theater is increasing. Check out the Save The Terrace Theater, Robbinsdale MN group on Facebook for updates on the efforts to save this landmark!

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