3736 23rd Avenue South
1926-1931 and 1932-1982, Closed, Demolished
"Our first Town Talk is to the left of the Nile Theater, the large picture window. Mother and Dad started out selling nickel candy, ice cream and donuts.
In those days the theaters didn't sell candy or popcorn. My dad had the idea of selling popcorn and contracted with some guy to buy the very best popcorn in big 50# sacks. The owner of the Nile theater had to sweep up all the empty boxes. He started counting how many boxes dad was selling and soon put in his own popcorn. That didn't stop dad, the people would line up all down the block to buy ice cream so the theater owner who was also the landlord tried to raise the rent and dad moved out.
By that time mom and dad were selling sandwiches and hamburgers, a full diner menu. He knew he had to own the business to have complete control. He started a twin Town Talk Diner downtown on 7th and Hennepin. It was actually two diners, one from 7th and one from Hennepin and they met in the middle of the building. I can still remember it well as I used to help dad with the change counting in that basement as well (See Drive-Ins2 page for more on Pearson's Town Talk Diners.) but I was only about 6 years old or so. Dad sold it to his younger brother Carl and he changed the name to the Tick Tock. Dad was opening the Drive-In and it was so very busy he had to spend all his time there." ~ Marston Pearson, February 23, 2011 ~
Cooking school at the Nile Theater March 29, 1945
"The Nile Theatre originally opened in 1926 and could seat just under 300 viewers. It was purchased by local businessmen, Sidney and William Volk in 1932. Two years later, it was destroyed in a blaze. The Volks rebuilt the Nile in 1936. The theater now seated over 1000 viewers and cost nearly $100,000 to construct.
It was designed by architect, Perry E. Crosier, who went on to design other theaters in the Minneapolis and suburban areas. The decor was an Art Deco-Egyptian hybrid, complete with Egyptian lobby furniture, and several large panels copied from ancient Egyptian temples covering the auditorium's walls. The hieroglyphics spelled out greetings and blessings for theater patrons." Towards the rear of the auditorium, the Nile contained a sound-proof glass-enclosed crying room where mothers and their young children could view a movie without disturbing other patrons. "The Nile had cutting edge projection equipment and a parking lot with a capacity for more than 500 cars (No wonder it was used for Drivers' Training!).
In the early 60s, the theater was somewhat modernized, though none of its 30s decoration lost. The Nile was included in a 1963 article in Life magazine on movie houses.
Falling into decline beginning in the 70s, the theater was closed in 1982 and torn down soon afterwards." The final film shown was the 1936 black and white version of "Showboat". I went to see this final movie to re-visit my childhood theater for the very last time. At the time, I wondered why they had chosen "Showboat" to close the theater. As I give this more thought, "Showboat" may have been the Nile Theater's premiere movie after it was rebuilt in 1936. What is your take on this?
~ Online source: Bryan Krefft; edited by webmaster ~
~ ~ ~ (MAP)
Another online source states, "There is an error in the Krefft text. The Egyptian wall decoration was covered over in the 1960s with painted acoustical ceiling tiles and the entire 1930s decor was removed and replaced with the mid-century modern designs and light fixtures." The basement was turned into a lounge with a snack bar with black vinyl bar stools. It also had about 100 black mid-century chairs with chrome bases that swiveled, complete with bright red, yellow, orange, and avocado seat cushions. There was a large 23-inch black and white TV built into the wall.
A small addition was built to the north side of the main level, that contained the manager's office and a stairway to the basement lounge and the exit doors.
This writer continues, "I attended several shows in the late 1970s and was told the show was cancelled because there weren't enough people in the audience. After making a 30-minute bus ride to the Nile Theatre on the #23 bus, I stopped attending evening shows there because of the hourly bus service at night and the wait in the subzero temperatures. The corner of 38th Street and 23rd Avenue also housed a popular Italian restaurant (Jock's Cafe in the 1950s), beauty shop, bar, corner superette (Oas'), 1960s era supermarket, hardware store, and a large pharmacy/gift store. All of those businesses are now gone and most of the stores are for rent. There is a very large nursing home built on the Nile site. It was called, the Nile Health Care Center." Today, it is named, Providence Place.
~ Online source: tjo; edited by webmaster ~
~ ~ ~
Excerpts of memories from still another Nile Theater enthusiast, and interestingly, a 1968 Roosevelt graduate: The author begins by stating, "There is no other movie theater on the planet that meant more to me than the Nile, especially on Saturday afternoons!" He describes the Nile Theater audience as, "an always kid-crowded mass of wide eyes and excited noises, who paid their 35-cent admission (and doubled that for candy and popcorn) for the trip to a world of their own, few adults anywhere in sight, eager for a few hours entertainment geared strictly toward them."
The writer continues, "How much more important 'going to the movies' was during a time when almost no one owned a color TV (CBS & ABC didn't join NBC with prime time color broadcasts until 1965), and there was so much more to the experience than just seeing the feature attraction! Multiple cartoons, of course, but short-subjects from 'The Three Stooges' or the short 'B' films of 'The Bowery Boys', were inevitably a part of the several hours that culminated in the feature itself. And what features they were!
People have told me that their worst fears of impermanence are realized when one of their childhood schools is torn down. Bancroft Elementary, Folwell Jr. High, and Roosevelt Sr. High were the schools I attended during the 50s and 60s. They all still stand. But The Nile theater stands only in memory. In many ways it was the most important school of them all."
~ Online source: Mark Riley RHS '68, May 9, 2008 ~
~ ~ ~
Roosevelt graduate, Jerry Sacre, writes, "When I was in ninth grade at Sanford Junior High School, I took my girlfriend, Jinx Carlson to the Nile for movies; but since I wasn't old enough to drive, my dad, a Minneapolis police officer, would drive us in his squad car to and from the Nile. We got a lot of weird looks! I lost track of Marylyn (Jinx) Carlson after we graduated. She went to South High School. I don't know her married name. It is fun thinking about those days going to movies at the Nile and how we got around before I could drive.
Also, Jinx Carlson and I were King and Queen of the Sanford Junior High German Club in 1951-52---guess that stuck as we went together in high school, me at Roosevelt and she at South!"
Jerry adds that his brother, Ron, graduated from Roosevelt in '59. "I could go on and on . . . This web site is a keeper!" ~ Jerry Sacre RHS '55, August 29, 2009 ~
~ ~ ~
"I think those of us who attended Nokomis Jr. High spent more time on the 34th Avenue places...but I think what I remember the most are two favorite locations:
1. swinging on a rope swing over Minnehaha Creek (someplace between 28th and 34th Avenues, but closer to 28th.
2. walking from Roosevelt to a restaurant hang out on 38th Street on the left of the block between 24th and 23rd Avenues, where we drank Coke and snacked and talked for hours (I usually had a grilled cheese and onion rings!).
Side note: the Nile Theatre was easily viewed from this small cozy restaurant with glass windowed front. I cannot remember the name of it. If anyone else remembers hanging out there, please let me know what it was named! Webmaster's reply: "The restaurant on the corner of 38th and 23rd Avenue South, on the northwest side of the street was named, Jock's in the '50s. I was renamed after that. I am thinking that you may be referring to the Nile Pharmacy soda fountain. They had windows overlooking the Nile Theater. We used to go to my birthday parties there for food and to see the Saturday matinee!. Bill's was a cozy restaurant, but it was located on 38th and 25th Avenue South (on the south side of the street)."
I'll never forget attending 'The 10 Commandments' at the Nile Theatre with my mom. The now out-dated special effects were awesome then, and so appropriately set in the Egyptian decor of the theatre!"
~ Val Waters RHS '62, October 8, 2011 ~
3800 42nd Ave. S
December 30, 1948 - present
May 14, 2006
The Riverview Theater opened on December 30, 1948.
It was built to replace the Volk's aging Falls Theater that was located on 40th Street East and Minnehaha Avenue.
This was a notable event and was featured in national publications. The first movie presented was, "June Bride", starring Bette Davis and Robert Montgomery.
I recall the theater being remodeled in 1956. It continues to be in operation today. Here is a great link to their show time schedule, economical prices, and more history about the Riverview.
Feeling nostalgic? Give it a try! Be sure to check out the photos in the lobby area, as it has been preserved in the same decor as we remember it way back when!
There is a lot of interesting data and photos contained within this link:
Riverview Theater's Link
Slideshow--Riverview Site and Additional Photos from Flicker
Created by "y entonces/Dan".
Submitted by Jack Funk VHS '59 (RHS Sophomore, '57) on June 22, 2010
~ Riverview Theater Thumbnails ~
Nocturnal marquee South side of lobby North side of lobby Concessions Interior
"Wildkats!" - Sharon (Anderson) Englund (left)
~ These photos were taken on May 14, 2006, following the "Wildkats!" live performance on Mother's Day. ~
The "Wildkats!" is a small but lively musical group that has performed on Mother's Day at the Riverview Theater.
Please consult the theater for details, as they do not perform annually. Sharon (Anderson) Englund, classmate from Folwell Jr. High and SHS graduate
is one of the leading performers. Her husband, Rob Englund RHS '61, is the lighting and music technician.
The Wildkats! link is down. If it restored, I will re-post it here.
"Hello Fellow Ted's. I'm Tom Breyette RHS Class of '65. I would love to give a little info on the Nile & Riverview Theatres. I worked at both from 1962 until 1965 as an Usher. Many RHS students worked at both.
The Manager of the Nile was Mr. Ron Kuharski, and at the Riverview, Mr. Paul Hasse. Both were GREAT to work for!! When I retired from the Federal Gov. in 1997, I remember thinking back to those days as
'The Best Jobs I ever had'. I hope you post this, as I think many RHS Grads will remember "Mr. K" & Mr. Hasse. Thanks a lot."
Submitted by Tom Breyette, RHS '65
on October 12, 2008
Turquoise Marquee in 2001
~ a more recent mural on the Riverview in the alley ~
3954 Minnehaha Avenue
1933 - 1948, Demolished
The Brandt Theater opened around 1917. It was renamed Ha Ha Theater around 1921. Owned by William and Sydney Volk in the 1930s, it was renamed the Falls Theater,
operating from 1931 and into the 1940s. The Volks replaced the Falls Theater with the Riverview Theater in 1948, which is still operating on 38th Street East and 42nd Avenue South. Source: Lon Peterson, Ken Roe
On February 18, 1932, there was a bomb intended for the Falls Theater in Minneapolis. Stores adjoining the Falls Theater were damaged by this bomb. Source: Minnesota Historical Society
The Falls Theater operated from 1933 to 1948. William and Sydney Volk's theaters were called the Minnehaha Theater Corporation. Source: Lon Peterson
In the late '40s, Sidney and William Volk wanted to replace an aging Falls Theater which was located on Minnehaha Avenue.
They contracted with the premier theater architects of that period, Liebenberg and Kaplan, to build one of the finest theaters of that day, the Riverview Theater. Online Source Unknown
In the '50s, "Going to the theaters on the premiere night was the 'big thing' in those days. The Falls Theater was the neighborhood theater until the opening of the Riverview occurred.
It was located on the west side of Minnehaha Avenue, just north of 40th Street East. As for theaters, I attended the first movie at the Riverview. I thought it was, 'Father Knows Best', but was recently informed that it was
'June Bride', starring Bette Davis and Robert Montgomery. Also, I remember seeing Jane Russell in 'The Outlaw'. That was an experience." Submitted by Jerry Sacre, RHS '55 on August 29, 2009
~ If anyone has a photo of the Falls Theater it would be fun to include it here. ~
4944 34th Ave. S
I was very surprised to receive this interesting photo of the Leola Theater.
After taking a closer glance, my eye caught the older model cars in the foreground that were parked along the east side of 34th Avenue South.
My first impression was that the photo was taken in the early 30s; however, the release date for "The Spirit of Culver", the film advertised on the Leola marquee, was
James Shetler, RHS '71, submitted this photo after borrowing it from its owner in order to scan it for our enjoyment. I can't thank them enough.
James grew up in the neighborhood and went to the Leola as a little boy but has few memories of it. He grew up on Weenonah Place and five years ago moved back into the neighborhood.
"I had forgotten about the bakery that was next to the Leola, but there have been some memories coming back the past couple days. I remember the storefront window and think 'lemon' now when I think about it.
They must have had lemon cake or something there."
I believe the Leola opened in about 1928 and ceased being a movie theater about 1961, because they featured live theater acts about that time.
Does anyone know when it was demolished?
5 cent Candy Bars
"The parents of Barb (Lee) Gibson, who was in my '55 class at Roosevelt, owned the Leola Theater.
Lee was Barb's maiden name and her grandfather started the Leola Theater on 50th Street East and 34th Avenue South.
I fixed her up on a blind date with my fraternity brother and they've been married 50 years and now reside in San Jose, California.
Barb looked at the website and couldn't believe the old pictures of the Leola Theater you had. She mentioned that her mom had worked in the bakery next to the Leola and that she met her dad there!"
Jerry Sacre RHS '55, 8/28/09
"I loved the 'Leola' theater info too. I also went there on Saturday afternoons. Did all the things the other man wrote about, but I only paid 10 cents [not sure to whom Glenda refers here].
I remember the ticket taker, her name was "Birdie". Wonder if anyone else remembers her. My dad would always clown around with her as we went into the theater. Your website brings back so many memories.
Just great. Keep it up."
Glenda (Bennett) Ballis RHS '53, 9/7/09
"In 1960 & 1961 the Leola was in disrepair." Sandy Larson used to work there. "Three guys from U of M AV department bought it: Chester McCullum,
Dick Varani, and Bill Cumberland."
Sandy Larson Conboy RHS '62
"That photo of the Leola Theater you have just doesn't look like the theater I knew in the late 50s and early 60s.
The second floor windows seem wrong, the canopy, and the also black glass-like facade. Memory is a dicey thing, though.
Do you know if the place had undergone some [exterior] 'modernization' after this picture was taken?"
Dana (Andersen) Andreasen RHS '70, 6/20/10
Perhaps someone else can shed some light on this.
"I used to see three movies on a Saturday afternoon - and popcorn - for something like 25 cents."
Michael Green SHS '76, 7/27/12
If anyone has additional photos or historical data for any of our childhood theaters that you would like to see on
this web site, please contact the webmaster below.
~ ~ ~
Bonnie (Daniels) Capper of Ridgefield, Washington, submitted a very cute story about the Old Leola Theater.
It was written by her Aunt Betty (Keating) Adrian (RHS '39) about 2002 after the passing of her mother, Mary "Non" (Keating) Daniels (RHS '37) in 2001. Bonnie's mother often spoke
of their theater adventures, as well as many others, as she and her sister were growing up. Bonnie is so thankful that her aunt wrote about many of their travels in the
St. Paul/Minneapolis area.
~ The Old Leola Theater ~
"Mr. O. A. Lee, clever man that he was, owned the neighborhood theater for as long as I can remember. In one brilliant moment he rearranged the letters of his name to read Leola which, we thought, sounded rather musical and much easier to pronounce than Oalee might have been.
Every Saturday afternoon we trooped over to 50th and 34th Avenue clutching the admission price of 10 cents. Mr. Lee usually ran a thrilling western movie plus an exciting serial. It was either a western or mystery which always ended with a cliff hanger, 'To be continued next week'. This kept us on the edge of our seats and in agony waiting 'till the following Saturday to see the next episode. Oh, Mr. Lee had more goodies to show us for our dimes . . . we groaned through a newsreel, cheered for the cartoon, annoyed other kids through the showing of a travelogue, which showed us the wonders of far away places. Occasionally, we were treated to a 'Sing Along' which was a sheet of music with words displayed on the screen, and we were all invited to follow the bouncing ball as it bounced across the words in time to the music. Everyone in the audience sang including the boisterous boys who could not carry a tune.
The Old Leola Theater is filled with great memories other than the movies. I remember standing in front of the ticket line waiting with a girlfriend for the booth to open when a big bully came up, pushed me out of line and took my place. He said I had to go to the back. 'Non' was in line about half way back with her friends while I was quite close to the door. I told Bully Boy I was going to get my sister and he rudely laughed at me. Well, let me tell you, when I came back with 'Non', who happened to be at that time, much taller and stronger than myself, he quickly stepped back and said he was only teasing. She was great to have around!
We usually went with the neighborhood kids, but poor little Gunnar seldom had a dime to get in . . . so we plotted! Gunnar would go back of the theater to the fire door exit and, during the deluge of kids running down the aisle for their seats, one of us would go open the door and let Gunnar sneak in. By the time the usher got there, he could never tell which kid got in free. One day, Mr. O. A. Lee himself was checking ticket stubs and pulled Gunnar out. The poor little kid began to cry, and so kind hearted Mr. O. A. Lee let him go ahead free. Bless you Mr. O. A. Lee!
'Non' could see the screen better if we sat way down in front, so we always ran for the second row middle seats, scrunched down with our knees braced on the seats ahead of us. Almost no one ever sat in the first row ahead of us, so we had primo vision. Very comfy-cozy. there we would settle down with our Milk Duds, chocolate bars and enjoy the movie.
Came one time when Bert Shorten, a neighbor kid older, taller and meaner than us, beat us to our private reserved seats and wouldn't budge. We were forced to sit in the next row back behind him. 'Non' couldn't let that pass for one minute! Bert removed his big old shoes and sat there all prepared to settle back and enjoy the show which had just begun. My valiant, stalwart sister, 'Non', reached under his seat and came up with one of his shoes. She gave a mighty throw and it landed up on the stage. Angry old Bert had to put on his one shoe, and leaving the seat unprotected, hobbled up on stage to retrieve his shoe. We scrambled over the backs and down into our rightful seats while Bert defiled the air muttering mean things to us. He never tried taking our seats again! 'Non' was always full of fun things for us to do!" Submitted June 19, 2008
~ ~ ~
The Leola was built by Mr. Ollie Lee, hench the name Leola. The Lee family owned and operated the theatre until 1960 when they sold it to the Cygnet Corp. The Lee's had closed the theatre. Cygnet reopened the Leola in 1959 under a lease with the option to buy. Cygnet was a three way partnership of Bill Cumberland, Chet McCallum and myself, Dick Varani. March 23, 2010
~ Remembering 34th Avenue ~
Here's an ad for the Leola Theater from the 1928 Sagamore!
~ ~ ~
stumbled upon a Midwest trade publication,
How Much FOR House Appeal
But, as hereinbefore stated,
there is a limit to which the owner can go in the matter of seasonal
changes. The limit, however, is not as short as many owners are
inclined to believe. One must realize that what he can afford is
quite wholly determined by the benefits to be derived.
Case History No. 19
Demonstrating that a theatre
auditorium can be thoroughly modernized, its acoustics corrected and its
appearance brought up-to-date in the modern manner without extensive and
costly alterations of the building itself, the
Leola Theatre, at
Minneapolis, Minnesota, was recently rejuvenated into one of the most
attractive small theatres in the Twin Cities.
The oldest and the newest in
decorative design--Ancient Egyptian and Modern--were ideally combined
when the interior of the Nile Theatre, also at Minneapolis, was
remodeled recently. Despite the centuries which intervened between
the work of the old and new artists, their designs harmonized into an
attractive, restful, audience-building interior.
The successful exhibitor is a public servant and as such he has more to contend with than the immortalized cranberry merchant.
~ interesting style of writing in 1938 ~
Authentic Ancient Egyptian art is painted on the acousti-decorative panels
which cover the side walls of the newly-decorated Nile Theatre, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The Egyptian figures were copied from centuries-old exhibits in the Minneapolis Art Institute and were traced on the sound-absorptive material
by an ingenious use of the stereopticon [projection process]. (Photo courtesy The Celetex Corp., Chicago.)
Academy, Alambra, Alvin, American, Aster, Avalon, Boulevard, Camden, Campus-Oak Street Cinema, Capri, Cedar, Century, Cooper, Crystal, East Lake, Edina, El Lago, Excelsior Dock, Franklin, Gayety, Gopher, Grandview (St. Paul),
Har-Mar (St. Paul), The Heights, Highland (St. Paul), Hollywood, Homewood, Hopkins, Isis, Lagoon, Leola, Liberty, Loring, Lyceum, Lyndale, Mall of America, Mazda, Metro, Metropolitan, Music Box, Nile, Nokomis, Northtown, Orpheum,
Oxboro (Bloomington), Palace, Pantages, Paradise, Parkway, Radio City, Radio City interior, Rialto, Richfield (Hub), Ritz, Riverview, RKO Orpheum (St. Paul), RKO-PAN, St. Anthony Main, St. Louis Park, Schubert, Skyway6, Southdale Cinema I-II-III-IV,
Southern, Southtown, State, Suburban World, Terrace, Time, Uptown, Varsity, Vogue, Wayzata, Westgate (Edina), World
|~ More Twin Cities Theaters
(Some are not pictured above.)
~ Under Construction ~
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
~ I am still looking for other photos of the theaters in Minneapolis, Minnesota. ~
Please email the webmaster below.
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