Strand Theatre

36 S. Seventh Street,
Minneapolis, MN 55402

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Saxe Theatre, Minneapolis 1914

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Built for John E. Saxe as the first theater in Minneapolis specifically as a movie house, the Saxe Theatre opened in 1914, and was also one of the most luxurious and ornate theaters built in the city at that time, built for over $150,000.

Seating about 1,600, the Saxe Theatre was designed in Spanish Renaissance style, when most theaters were still being built to resemble late 19th century opera houses. The exterior was faced in highly elaborate terra-cotta decoration, with a theme of the four seasons.

Inside, the theater resembled a Spanish royal palace, with mahogany and ivory lining the walls, etched glass doors in the lobby, red terra cotta tile floors, and a grand marble staircase leading to the mezzanine level. In the auditorium, the seats in both the orchestra and balcony were lined with leather, and its pipe organ, costing $10,000, was said to be the most expensive ever installed at the time west of the Mississippi.

Less than three months after opening, the Saxe was renamed the Strand, and quickly became the premier movie house in Minneapolis of the day.

By the late-1920’s, however, its days were numbered. When most movie theaters were rapidly being wired for sound, the Strand Theatre was not, and was shuttered in 1928.

However, its second life was only beginning, for which it would become much better known, when it was converted into the Forum Cafeteria. Though the ornate facade was left mostly untouched, the interior was completely rebuilt in 1929-30 in spectacularly glitzy Art Deco style.

The Forum was razed in 1979 to make way for the City Center Shopping Mall, but the marvelous interior of the cafeteria was saved, and re-installed inside the new mall. Now once again restored to its former glory, the former Forum now houses the fine dining establishment, Goodfellow’s.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

ryan0290
ryan0290 on February 19, 2004 at 5:56 pm

A picture looking towards Nicollet. Next door was the Century

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kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on August 18, 2006 at 11:20 pm

Here is a photo of the Strand, circa 1920:
http://tinyurl.com/jntyr

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on August 30, 2006 at 1:02 am

Here are photos from 1916 and 1918, respectively:
http://tinyurl.com/ncob5
http://tinyurl.com/mv4tl

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on June 29, 2007 at 1:16 am

Designed by the architectural firm of Chapman & Magney.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 17, 2010 at 1:33 pm

Here is a photo of the Saxe Theatre, from a 1916 book, “Theatres and Motion Picture Houses,” by Arthur Sherman Meloy.

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