36 S. 7th Street,
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Built for John E. Saxe as the first theatre in Minneapolis specifically as a movie house, the Saxe Theatre opened September 6, 1914, and was also one of the most luxurious and ornate theatres 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 theatres 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 theatre 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 Theatre was renamed the Strand Theatre on November 18, 1914, 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 theatres 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 Cafeteria 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.
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