Avalon Theater

1500 East Lake Street,
Minneapolis, MN 55407

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Avalon Theater

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Built on the site of the 1909 Royal Theatre (later Seventh Ward Theatre/Rosebud Theatre, Reno Theatre). 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 8 comments)

William
William on December 5, 2003 at 2:42 pm

The Avalon Theatre seated around 1000 people.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on August 29, 2006 at 5:40 pm

I’ve gone through the Minneapolis theaters and have found that the American, Vogue and East Lake are not listed. The Vogue was at Lake and Blaisdell, the American was on Nicollet and Lake and the East Lake was on 1537 East Lake Avenue, apparently across the street from the Avalon. If I’ve failed to account for any of the three under another listing, please let me know. Otherwise, I will add them as new theaters.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 9, 2009 at 10:05 pm

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.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 10, 2009 at 1:38 am

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

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on August 26, 2012 at 4:20 pm

Exterior pictured in this trade ad: Boxoffice

CJ1949
CJ1949 on September 9, 2012 at 3:04 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 11:39 am

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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