Pantages Theatre :
The Pantages Theatre in downtown Minneapolis is
named for the Greek immigrant Alexander Pantages.
The Minneapolis location, opened in October 27,
1916 was the 26th theatre of what would eventually
be a total of 500 theatres opened nationwide by
The Minneapolis Pantages, located
at 710 Hennepin Avenue, was designed by Minneapolis
architectural firm Kees & Colburn. It was
originally conceived as a twelve-story complex
in Beaux Arts style, but was scaled back to a
two-story Art Moderne facade with a Beaux art
interior that accommodated 1600 people.
The building cost approximately $15,000 to construct
and was credited as having the first air-conditioning
in Minneapolis. The innovative air-conditioning
system involved cooling the air with ice. Alexander
Pantages also created the mezzanine, a carpeted
lobby on the balcony level with restrooms and
telephones. The first show at the Minneapolis
Pantages Theatre was a variety lineup that included
singers, comedians, and even a banjo player.
In 1922, a new glass dome was added
high above the auditorium to add dramatic flair
to the theatre. In 1926, The Pantages Theatre's
entryway was renovated with a new facade of St.
Cloud red granite.
In 1929, the Minneapolis Pantages,
which had largely been used as a variety show
stage, was sold to the Radio Keith Orpheum (RKO)
Corporation. The Corporation discontinued the
theater's live acts in favor of showing talking
pictures. In 1946, the Pantages was purchased
by a local promoter, Edmond Ruben, who renamed
the theatre the RKO Pan. Ruben made extensive
changes to both the interior and exterior, devastating
much of the original architectural design in the
process. His renovation included decreasing the
seating capacity to 1400 and adding bird's-eye
maple woodwork. The grand re-opening happened
on April 14, 1946, with a screening of Gilda,
starring Rita Hayworth and Glenn Ford.
In 1961, Edmond Ruben sold the Pantages
with the surrounding Stimson building to Ted Mann.
Mr. Mann owned a number of other theatres in Minneapolis
including the Orpheum, the Academy, the World,
the Lyceum, and the Strand. Mann again renovated
the theatre, decreasing the seating capacity to
1100 with red padded metal rocker seats, and removing
Alexander Pantages' famous mezzanine. The Beaux-Arts
interior, a signature element of all Pantages
theaters, was also eliminated. The theatre reopened
under the name Mann Theater on March 15, 1961
with the movie Spartacus.
The Mann Theater remained in operation
until 1984, then sat empty until the City of Minneapolis
purchased it in 1998. After four years of careful
restoration, the Pantages Theater reopened on
November 7, 2002 under the management of the Historic
Theater Group, who operates the Historic State
Theater and the Orpheum Theatre, also located
on Hennepin Avenue's revitalized theater district.
In its final state, the 999 seat
Pantages Theater is designed for Off-Broadway
shows and concerts, and is the oldest surviving
active example of a Pantages theater in the United
States. The great history of this theatre and
its fantastic Hennepin Avenue location makes this
venue a hot spot in Minneapolis.