Avalon Theater

1500 East Lake Street,
Minneapolis, MN 55407

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The Rosebud Theatre was opened in 1909. It was given a makeover in 1924 to the plans of architectural firm Ekman, Holm & Company and renamed Avalon Theatre. Seating was provided for 300. In 1937, the theatre was enlarged to the plans of architect Perry E. Crosier and given an Streamline Moderne style. The facade features an interesting hulking corner tower with neon light boxes.

It became the Fine Arts Theater from 1955. By 1982 and until 1985 it operated as an adult porn movie theatre, known as the Avalon Fine Arts Theater.

Since 1986 it has housed a theater puppet ‘company’ called ‘In the Heart of the Beast’. They create and perform large scale puppet performances. They are very active in the community and “employ” many volunteers and school children. The highlight of their year is the annual May Day parade.

It is a great renewal effort for a building that had become a nuisance to the community. The HOBT is wonderful program that is one of the gems of Lake Street.

Contributed by Sean Ryan

Recent comments (view all 14 comments)

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on March 31, 2009 at 5:10 pm

Here is a new link for the “Heart of the Beast” website.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 10, 2009 at 3:05 am

The “AIA Guide to the Twin Cities” by Larry Millett, published in 2007 by the Minnesota Historical Society, has more information on this theater. It was originally a smaller theater built in 1924 and designed by Ekman, Holm & Company. It was enlarged in 1937, and redesigned in the Art Moderne style by Perry Crosier. A 1997 renovation and restoration for the In the Heart of the Beast Puppet Theatre was done by Vincent James Associates Architects.

I’ve been unable to discover if the 1924 theater that was incorporated into Perry Crosier’s Avalon had the same name or not. The Avalon was owned by Bill Frank and Oscar Woempner, operators of about a dozen theaters in the area at the time of the 1937 rebuilding.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on September 10, 2009 at 3:21 am

Click on the link that I posted on Jun 24, 2007. It gives similar information and claims that “The western half of the Avalon’s site has been a movie theater since 1909, first with silent films, then showing “talkies” after 1927”. Was there another theater at this location in 1909?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 10, 2009 at 6:38 am

I’ve been unable to find out anything about the 1909 theater. It was probably demolished to make way for the 1924 building.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on September 10, 2009 at 5:25 pm

I don’t know anything about the 1909 theater either. The 1935 Film Daily lists a 300 seat Avalon Theater for Minneapolis. The location given is Bloomington and Lake. That maps pretty close to the location of this Avalon Theater. If it is the same theater, both theaters were named Avalon.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on October 16, 2009 at 9:30 pm

The Avalon was an adult theater in 1982 known as the Fine Arts. Here are some photos:

Photo1

Photo2

Photo3

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on August 26, 2012 at 9:20 pm

Exterior pictured in this trade ad: Boxoffice

CJ1949
CJ1949 on September 9, 2012 at 8:04 am

The early name was ROSEBUD, believe it or not, long before Orson Welles came along. There was also a late 1920’s name, RENO, but this is unverified. Yes, there was a theatre on this site 1909-24 then the renovation in 1924 and then the art deco Crosier makeover in 1937 to a much larger theatre. The puppet company took it over in 1988. Porn lasted to 1985. The “Fine Arts” name was really just because the name Avalon fell off the marquee. It was always referred to as the “Avalon Fine Arts” in its porn days and advertised as such. The move to “Fine Arts” in 1955, starting with a run of Welles' “Othello” and migrating to an art/foreign policy which soon gave away to sex pictures and porn. Some of Russ Meyer’s early films were here, as well the usual nudist colony pictures, etc. “And God Created Woman” played at least 3 months in the summer of 1958 after the downtown run at the World. There would occasionally be a sex/horror type of film, for example Mario Bava’s Blood and Black Lace played as their Christmas attraction in 1965. “La Notte” played here too, and sometimes these “arty” films were double billed with a late-run Hollywood film, with the Hollywood film usually on the lower half of the bill. The theatre had an artesian well and a keystone problem that projectionists had to grapple with.

Matthew Prigge
Matthew Prigge on November 12, 2012 at 4:39 pm

If anyone has any stories about going to/ working at this threatre in its adult days, I would love to hear them. I am chronicling the histories of adult theatres in the US. Please contact me at Thanks!

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