Century Theatre

40 S. 7th Street,
Minneapolis, MN 55402

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Finkelstein & Ruben

Architects: Serenus Colburn, Frederick (Franklin) Kees, Jack J. Liebenberg

Firms: Kees & Colburn, Liebenberg and Kaplan

Styles: Art Deco, French Renaissance

Previous Names: Miles Theatre, Garrick Theatre

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Century Theatre

The theatre known best as the Century Theatre originally opened as a 1,100-seat vaudeville house called the Miles Theatre at its opening on December 28, 1908, but it only lasted six years before closing. It was designed by the architectural firm Kees & Colburn.

In 1915, almost entirely rebuilt, it reopened as the Garrick Theatre, and was far more elegant than the Miles Theatre had been. Not only did it feature vaudeville and other live stage shows, but motion pictures as well.

In 1920, it was acquired by the Finkelstein & Ruben circuit. The Garrick Theatre remained in business until 1928, when it was closed once more.

In 1929, the architectural firm Liebenberg & Kaplan drew plans for a new theater. The Century Theatre was built in the shell of the Garrick Theatre, and was even more ornate, and was proclaimed the most up-to-date movie house west of Chicago when it opened in September 29, 1929. It sat a little over 1,600.

Its vertical marquee rose over 25 feet above the facade, and its marquee was ablaze with close to 4,500 lightbulbs. The interior was a stylish blend of French Renaissance and Art Deco.

However, the Depression hurt business at the Century Theatre, and it closed in 1931. It was open and closed a number of times more between 1931 and 1935.

For the remainder of the 1930’s and 1940’s, it played mostly second-run films which has previously had long runs at larger downtown houses, as well as the occasional road show.

Again, the theatre closed in 1954, for a massive remodeling project which transformed it into the Century Cinerama. When it reopened, the Century Theatre would become only the eleventh theatre in the US to show Cinerama films. The Century Theatre was again gutted, and given a modern interior, and its seating again reduced, to 1,145. Its Cinerama screen was 72 by 28 feet. The first picture, "This Is Cinerama" was a tremendous hit, and soon rivaled the State Fair as a tourist attraction! It was estimated that the Century Cinerama brought millions to the Twin Cities' economy during the 1950’s.

In 1960, the Todd A-O process was installed, but Cinerama returned until 1963 when 70mm was installed for "Cleopatra", which would play the Century Theatre for over a year. Another long run the following year of "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" would be the Century Theatre’s swansong, and it was shuttered in late-1964.

Several weeks later, a fire broke out in the Century Theatre, and gutted it. It was demolished in February, 1965.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 16 comments)

devans326 on May 6, 2010 at 7:35 pm

Future home of the Miles Theatre (about 1908):
View link

The Miles Hippodrome (about 1910):
View link

The New Garrick Theatre (1925):
View link

The Century Theatre (about 1948):
View link

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 3, 2010 at 3:36 am

The photos linked in the previous comment show that elements of the original facade of the Miles Theatre survived through both of the major remodelings of the building.

A photo of the Miles Theatre from the trade journal The Western Architect, issue of December, 1908, attributes the design of the Miles to the architectural firm of Kees & Colburn, also architects of the Loring, Orpheum, and Pantages theaters in Minneapolis.

A later page of the magazine displays the original floor plan of the Miles Tehatre.

kjb2012 on September 12, 2011 at 9:35 am

It’s been nearly half a century since the Century screened its last film, “The Unsinkable Molly Brown”, but it hasn’t been forgotten. During those five decades, the theatre burned down, an office building rose and was later razed to make way for City Centre, a downtown shopping mall which never really took off. But now the Hennepin Ave Theatre Trust, the folks who run the State, Orpheum and Pantages in downtown Minneapolis, are opeing the “New Century”. Located in inside City Centre, it will be a 300 seat, black box theatre. Although smaller and less grand than the old cinema, it’s good that the memory of the Century will live on in Minneapolis.

Redwards1 on February 22, 2014 at 11:10 am

The Cinerama installation at the Century was highly successful. Orchestra and front half of the balcony were very effective for audience being put “in the picture”. The theatre’s moderate size was a factor. When I saw Cinerama in Chicago at the cavernous Palace, it was less sensational despite a larger screen.

Chris1982 on May 10, 2014 at 1:24 pm

All the photos show the address to be 40 S. 7th Street.

DavidZornig on November 6, 2015 at 11:33 pm

Photo added courtesy of The Last Remaining Seats Facebook page.

CENTURY THEATRE – Minneapolis “THIS IS CINERAMA” Premiere: April 19, 1954 Engagement Duration: 67 weeks

rivest266 on January 14, 2017 at 8:40 pm

September 29th, 1929 grand opening ad in the photo section.

rivest266 on January 15, 2017 at 8:04 am

December 28, 1908 grand opening ad as Miles in the photo section.

DavidZornig on February 19, 2020 at 8:23 pm

1916 photo as the New Garrick added credit Minnesota Historical Society.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 1, 2023 at 6:58 am

The April 17, 1909 issue of Show World revealed that the Miles Theatre had opened un 1908 as a Sullivan & Considine vaudeville house, with four shows a day. Owner C. H. Miles announced a change in policy effective April 19, 1909 when the house would be booked by Wm. Morris and prices would be advanced to a fifty cent top for evening performances (Sullivan Considine’s seven-act shows typically had a top price of thirty cents.) There would be only two shows a day, as at the rival Orpheum across the street.

One thing in the article contradicts our current theater description above. It says that the Miles had only about 1,100 seats, not the 2,000 our description claims. The larger Orpheum seated about 1,800.

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