Varsity Theater

1308 Fourth Street SE,
Minneapolis, MN 55414

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Varsity Theater

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The theater is located in Dinkytown, the neighborhood commercial district surrounding the University of Minnesota’s Minneapolis campus. It opened in 1915 as the University Theater. In 1939, it was remodeled by Liebenberg & Kaplan in Art Moderne style and renamed the Varsity Theater. It operated until sometime in the 1980s.

After it closed, a fierce battle raged over whether to turn it into a club or music venue. Those plans didn’t go through and the Varsity Theater housed a photo studio for some time. The auditorium was gutted to make way for lighting, backdrops, props, etc. The lobby and exterior elements such as the marquee and vertical were completely restored.

The theater reopened in January 2005 as a concert hall.

Contributed by Sean Ryan

Recent comments (view all 15 comments)

kbaichtal
kbaichtal on October 16, 2004 at 11:32 am

If I am remembering correctly the rent-to-buy in 1990 was $200K-ish? Don’t know about the later two sales.

Jesse Hoheisel
Jesse Hoheisel on January 9, 2005 at 6:07 pm

Does anyone know what they are doing to the Varsity now, and what is taking it so long? It was going to reopen in November, now what?

kbaichtal
kbaichtal on January 9, 2005 at 7:02 pm

Here’s an article that includes a contact email for the Varsity.

View link

I see there’s a Loring Cafe connection… too cool!!

Jesse Hoheisel
Jesse Hoheisel on January 12, 2005 at 11:36 pm

So they’re not going to be showing movies then? That’s sad….

PeteScholtes
PeteScholtes on January 27, 2005 at 1:58 pm

I’m putting together a history of the Varsity and would love to talk to all of you, but don’t seem to be able to email you by clicking on your names. If you’d like, email me at

ryan0290
ryan0290 on April 8, 2005 at 1:07 pm

The Varsity is Alive again!
http://www.varsitytheater.org/index.html

Thank You Mr. Mclean-

Marvelous Job!

zooklaw
zooklaw on May 18, 2006 at 8:36 am

The Varsity Theater is managed by the staff of the neighboring Loring Pasta Bar.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on June 14, 2006 at 4:36 pm

This is a January 2005 article about the re-opening of the Varsity:
http://www.mndaily.com/articles/2005/01/21/62864

GeorgeStrum
GeorgeStrum on August 1, 2006 at 6:17 am

Next summer the Theatre Historical Society may be visiting this theatre.

dmmaasch
dmmaasch on May 17, 2012 at 1:24 pm

I was manager of the Varsity and the Campus theatres during the 1970’s, a great time to work in that area. I still have the original blueprints from 1915 and the remodeling prints from 1939. In the early 1970’s, General Cinema remodeled it to their company style

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