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 41 comments)

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on July 23, 2010 at 1:23 am

Nice photos of the Terrace Theatre.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on July 23, 2010 at 2:52 am

Thanks Chuck 1231 for the pictures.

westar1
westar1 on November 10, 2010 at 6:04 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
Brooks on March 13, 2012 at 1:42 am

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
LanceD on March 23, 2012 at 9:18 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
delow on May 17, 2012 at 10:41 pm

Does anyone know if the theater is for sale?

lfrasso
lfrasso on September 24, 2012 at 10:11 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
alysiadavid on February 26, 2015 at 7:22 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!

dmr2701
dmr2701 on April 2, 2015 at 3:59 pm

In 1971 (at 19) I went to the Greatest Story Ever Told at the Terrace in Robinsdale. Bill, a friend from grade school, introduced me to Steve Brown that night. (Later we became good friends.) That night Steve wanted to hear my testimony and he sat on the ledge by the big front windows as I stood and told him how I had met the Lord Jesus just a few days before while on the U of MN campus as Bill told me how he had met the Lord Jesus. He told me how Christ wanted to show his powerful love to thousands just as I had experienced. It was while at the Terrace that I heard how God wanted to send a great revival to our country and do mighty miracles even as He did when He walked in Galilee. The churches of our day are in the way as they preach false gospels and teach a different Jesus, but the living Christ is truly risen from the dead and alive today and “able to save to the uttermost all that come to God through Him.”

Terrace
Terrace on May 17, 2015 at 3:28 pm

When the 1300 seat Terrace Theater opened in 1951, the spectacular venue was the most luxurious, comfortable and up-to-date theater in America. Local movie theater owners, Bill and Sydney Volk, spared no expense when they built their flagship overlooking the marshes on the west side of Crystal Lake. The architectural firm of Liebenberg and Kaplan designed the theater. In 1952, the Robbinsdale Post reported construction costs in excess of $750,000. The Terrace was equipped with a sunken den and fireplace, a television lounge, well furnished nursery rooms, deep and soft cushion seats, and background music throughout the theater. Considered a masterpiece of International-Style, The Terrace was one of the first ultramodern theaters in America. The Volk brothers planned the theater to serve all of the metropolitan area of the Twin Cities. A guest register from 1952 contained signatures from 25,000 people in every state of the union, Canada and many foreign countries. Over the years necessary improvements were made. In the 1970’s, The Terrace was retrofitted with 70mm equipment and the theater created a niche for action packed movies. In 1987 the theater purchased by the Midcontinental Theater Company.

The auditorium was divided in half, and two small balconies were separated and turned into 300 seat screening rooms. The last movie played in 1999 and the windows boarded up. The Terrace has remained unoccupied ever since. The building is currently owned by an out of state property management company with no interest in the neighborhood, or the historic significance of the building. The Terrace Theater has been pulling at the heart strings of Robbinsdale and the surrounding area for almost 15 years. Nobody really understands why this community treasure has been allowed to haunt the hillside for so long.

A couple years ago local rocker, Adam Fesenmaier started a facebook group called, “Save the Terrace”. The group grew and currently has the support of at least 1500 local theater enthusiasts. In the summer of 2014, Alison Nguyen attracted attention to the cause Robbinsdale’s annual Whiz Bang Days. Her Terrace 2.0 Float brought in local media and reminded Whiz Bang crowds that it was time to do something with this amazing historic building. In January 2015, “Save the Terrace” took a few steps off the little screen and into the real world. Our efforts are currently being organized as part of the Robbinsdale Historical Society. You can watch this page for more information and updates. If you want to get involved please consider joining the Robbinsdale Historical Society.

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