Palace Theatre

1102 Tower Avenue,
Superior, WI 54880

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Showing 19 comments

Tinseltoes on July 9, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Leading off this 1954 trade article on renovated theatres in the Minneapolis area:boxoffice

Yves Marchand
Yves Marchand on May 29, 2012 at 3:01 pm

Very interesting video. Thanks for sharing Joe.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 29, 2012 at 2:30 pm

I failed to explain in my previous comment that the page of thumbnails can be used to start the video at the point each thumbnail depicts, so you can watch any particular segment over again. Just click on it.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 29, 2012 at 2:21 pm

To belatedly answer Yves Marchand’s question, yes the photos on that page do depict the Palace Theatre.

Prior to the theater’s destruction, a tour of the Palace was captured on video, and it can be watched on this page at the Internet Archive. It can also be downloaded in either of two formats, and if you have problems with the video there is also a page with several thumbnail stills. Many of the interior shots are extremely dark, but the video is still worth a look. Running time is 7:22.

An announcement of the start of construction on the Palace appeared in the September 16, 1916, issue of Moving Picture World:

“New Palace at Superior, Wis.

“Duluth, Minn.—We have received from Frank N. Phelps, manager of New Grand Theater Co. of Duluth, Minn., the following communication: Contracts for construction of the Palace theater at Tower avenue and Eleventh street, Superior, Wis., by the Cook Amusement company, have been let. The amount of the contract was withheld by the amusement company incorporators, the Cook Brothers and Frank Phelps of the New Grand theater. Furnishings for the house, heating, ventilating and lighting will be contracted for later.

“Work on the theater building will begin Monday and it is hoped to have it completed by January 1. The house will be 50 x 140 feet, constructed of reinforced concrete, brick and terra cotta. It will be fireproof and will have a seating capacity of 1,200 on two floors.”

HowardBHaas on August 8, 2011 at 11:45 am

Mural of the theater:

Yves Marchand
Yves Marchand on September 5, 2009 at 9:58 am

I suppose the page below has pictures taken inside the Palace Theater. Somebody could confirm this ?

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on May 2, 2009 at 2:40 pm

The year given for this photo is 1984.

PaulWolter on April 14, 2007 at 6:48 pm

Does anyone have any pictures of the building to share?

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on March 3, 2007 at 4:41 pm

This is a 10/18/2006 article about the former Palace Theater.

“Councilors adamant about razing Palace Theater.

Source: Daily Telegram (Superior, WI)
Byline: Shelley Nelson

Oct. 18—The next time city councilors meet, the historic Palace Theater could be little more than memory, its footprint fading from Superior’s landscape. That didn’t stop preservationists from reminding city councilors Tuesday that they failed to save the past as far as the former downtown vaudeville and movie house is concerned. “Friends of Superior” members presented a petition urging city officials to follow all federal, state and local regulations before proceeding with demolition. The petition was signed by about 296 people, more than 200 residing in Superior. As City Clerk Margaret Ciccone cited the number of signatures, a Friends representative said there were more than noted in her remarks. Friends' members reminded councilors of their obligation to preserve the city’s past, which is cited in the city’s own ordinances and the mission of one of its committees. The group noted the city’s recent decisions were a departure from the attitude just a few years ago, when city officials lobbied Douglas County to take ownership of the building with the goal of finding a theater developer. “Like many others in this town, I am very disappointed this Palace will be coming down,” said Valerie Burke of Superior. “This war on blight is destroying everything that is unique and special to Superior. When tourists come to town, they seek out what is different. Every place in America has their Wal-Mart, strip malls, etc., so tourists come to find what is exceptional. While the Fairlawn and Meteor are a wonderful foundation for cultural sites, the Palace could have been a marvelous cornerstone for a revitalized downtown.” Friends of Superior tried everything from lobbying the council, seeking out the La Crosse engineer who proposed reopening the theater for $390,000, lobbying state and national organizations and even seeking a court injunction to stop demolition of the theater, constructed in 1915 and 1916. In the absence of any directives from a higher authority, city officials are proceeding with demolition plans, even after a complaint was filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development by the National Trust of Historic Preservation. That complaint has delayed release of $376,900 in Community Development Block Grant money the city was approved to receive in connection with the purchase of two taverns north of the theater. The National Trust contends the city needs to prepare a historic review for the Palace because of the theater’s proximity to the bars approved for federal funding, even though city officials have not made a request for federal funds to raze the Palace. “We have not been given any notice from HUD, any agency or court that says we cannot proceed with demolition,” said Mayor Dave Ross. He said city officials are in the process of providing “clear and conclusive evidence to HUD” to demonstrate that plans to raze the theater and bars directly to the north are separate projects.

In fact, the city has heard from one HUD official who concluded the city has done nothing wrong. Reading an excerpt from an e-mail sent to the city’s planning director Oct. 10, the mayor cited comments from the HUD planning officer with whom the city worked in developing plans to purchase and demolish Odyssey’s and the End Zone bars immediately to the north. “He says ‘I repeat there is not now or has there ever been any HUD money in this property. No one can afford the multi-million dollars for the rehab of this property. It has been vacant since 1982. Given the poor condition of the property, I can see no developer getting near it. So we save a vacant and deteriorating building — an eyesore — for perpetuity’,” Ross read. “This is the gentleman we have gone lock-step since the very beginning when we broached HUD about this project in our downtown,” Ross said, referring to plans to buy Odyssey’s and the End Zone. Councilor Ed Anderson, who has often been a dissenting voice when a project didn’t make sense to him or questions hadn’t been satisfactorily answered, said he doesn’t see a reasonable alternative to razing the theater. With the loss of state revenue designated toward revitalizing downtowns and the absence of federal assistance, he said the Palace is more than the city can take on when it already has Fairlawn Mansion, the Old Firehouse and Police Museum and restoration of the Meteor to manage. “With my own eyes, I was disgusted with the back of the building, the bricks falling off, the water frozen all the way up there,” Anderson said. He said it looked like the remains of fire-gutted buildings he saw as a child, when his father was a firefighter. “…that’s where a lot of our history went by the way,” Anderson said. “I’d love to save the Palace, but I think that the committee that was formed — there were people that came into it that were serious about it. They did their numbers and they decided they could not financially make it work”.

VincentPrice on November 5, 2006 at 11:10 am

Sadly, the Palace Theater was demolished on Wednesday, November 1, 2006

dalerthomas on July 6, 2006 at 7:18 am

The end of the Palace Theatre is probably coming very soon. Here is a link to the Daily Telegram Article:


Here is the first portion of the article:

Council Considers Fate of Palace
Shelley Nelson/News Editor
The Daily Telegram
Last Updated: Wednesday, July 5, 2006 02:53:04 PM

The final curtain may fall tonight for Superior’s historic Palace Theater.
The City Council will consider rejecting the sole proposal to redevelop the historic 1102 Tower Ave. vaudeville and movie house. Councilors also will consider disbanding a task force created to find a developer who would restore the theater to its former glory.
The decision could make the theater a thing of the past on the city’s landscape.

dalerthomas on June 27, 2006 at 3:25 pm

I have done a fair amount of research and exploring of the Palace Theatre over the years as part of several different efforts to consider restoration of the historic building.

When I have some time, I will make a detailed posting that describes the timeline from initial construction through a series of alterations to the lobby, marquee and front entryway. I have explored almost every inch of the theatre in visits over the years. In the 1980s, shortly after closing, it was in fine shape except for a bit of dust and grime. I walked through the basement playground area (none of the playground equipment was there), through the tunnel under the main house, past the dilapadated dressing rooms under the stage, by the animal cage room (from the vaudville era), up through the main house to the very top of the massive balcony and into the cramped projection booth. The projectors are still up there!

Not long after it closed in 1982, the Victory Fellowship took over the building for a church. And over the years, they did things like remove seats (most of which seem to be stacked on the stage now) and tore out some of the lobby (which was really just a horrible art deco change from the original design anyway). But they really just left things in a state of half destruction. During the 1990s, while the building was essentially abandoned, the pidgeons moved in with a vengance! It was the midwest’s largest pidgeon coop for many years until the city took possesion and eventually boarded up the windows and entry points.

Fortunately, copies of the “original” Rapp & Rapp blueprints exist. They are part of a collection stored in the Northwest Architectural Archives at University of Minnesota. They were part of the Liebenberg and Kaplan collection, a firm noted for designing more than 200 motion picture theatres in the Upper Midwest, many of the early ones featuring an art deco style. The Liebenberg & Kaplan Papers included copies of the Palace Theatre plans because the firm was responsible for all of the remodelings of the Palace through the years.

I obtained photo copies of the plans back in the early 1980s as part of the initial effort to save the theatre, and possibly return it to it’s original use as a stage theatre. Those copies were lost over the years and when the newest effort to rescue the theatre came about in late 2003, I returned to the Archive. This time I procured digital scans of all the plan sheets including initial construction plans and all the remodeling project plan sets. The Douglas County Historical Society has those scans in their collection now.

I will do a more complete posting including the timeline of alterations to the Theatre and hopefully some photos from the early years through present day.

If you want to help save this structure, contact the Douglas County Historical Society to see what can be done. At the very least, the structure could use a massive volunteer effort to clean the place and patch the holes that are allowing deterioration to continue.

kencmcintyre on June 7, 2006 at 1:58 pm

Here are minutes from the Board of Supervisors in December 2001 regarding transfer of the Palace to the city of Superior:

kencmcintyre on June 7, 2006 at 1:54 pm

Here is another article concerning restoration:

HighPlainsDrftr on June 7, 2006 at 12:37 pm

Within the past 6 months or so , the Palace was sold for $1.00 to a private buyer/developer. The city wants the building renovated with a sufficient amount of time, otherwise the mayor will use strong arm tactics to have the theatre torn down. The current mayor in office wants to demolish alot of the Historical structure of Superior for new developments. The city council suggested that the theatre be torn down and replaced with a replica, in its place. So….lets go from a beautiful Historical, Vintage, Art-deco piece of history and replace it with a Corporate Retro fit….

I believe that the theatre is protected by the Historical Society and cannot be torn down….but I am not exactly sure of those details.

nelsonexpert on May 17, 2006 at 9:43 pm

The building is still standing, but if there is a buyer out there – you better act quick. Call city hall in Superior, Wisconsin.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on October 28, 2005 at 1:22 pm

Here is another article about the Palace dated October 20, 2005. This article gives the address as 1102 Tower Ave.

KenRoe on October 28, 2005 at 7:24 am

Here is the latest news from Superior, courtesy of the Duluth News Tribune newspaper:
View link

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on October 27, 2005 at 4:44 pm

Address is 1102 Tower Ave.