Winona Theatre

167 Johnson Street,
Winona, MN 55987

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Publix Theaters Corporation

Architects: Oscar Cobb, Harold Solomon Kaplan, Jack J. Liebenberg

Firms: Liebenberg and Kaplan

Previous Names: Opera House, Winona Opera House, State Theatre

Nearby Theaters

Winona Theatre

Built and opened as the Opera House on December 5, 1892, it was designed by architect Oscar Cobb. In December 1925 it was renamed State Theatre, but this didn’t last long, as in September 1926 it was renamed Winona Theatre and opened as a movie theatre. It was operated by Minnesota Amusement Co. (Publix) from the early-1930’s, and was remodelled in the late-1930’s and again in 1950 to the plans of architectural firm Liebenberg & Kaplan. It closed on October 16, 1978 with Richard Dreyfuss in “The Goodbye Girl”. It later became a restaurant and bar called Emils. It was demolished in 1990.

Contributed by Chuck

Recent comments (view all 13 comments)

winonakid on September 24, 2013 at 5:25 am

The Winona Opera House was built in 1892. I’ve found movie listings as early as 1926. The building was demolished in 1990.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 24, 2013 at 4:33 pm

It’s possible that this house was never called the Colonial Theatre. Winona, by Walter Bennick, has a photo (bottom of page 113 of the Google Books preview) showing the opening of the Colonial Theatre on August 29, 1912. The Colonial Amusement Company leased the Winona Opera House in 1915, according to an item in the November 6 issue of The Moving Picture World, which said that the company was operating the house as a movie theater.

I’ve been unable to establish a timeline for the Colonial Theatre, but it appears to have still been operating in the mid-1930s when the Winona Theatre had already become a Paramount-Publix house.

winonakid on September 25, 2013 at 11:05 am

I’ve found ads from as early as 1915 that show the Winona Opera House showing movies (in addition to the usual live musicals and vaudeville shows).

winonakid on September 25, 2013 at 12:30 pm

The Winona Opera House opened on Monday, December 5, 1892. The first play presented that night was “By Proxy”.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 25, 2013 at 7:17 pm

The finding aid to the Liebenberg & Kaplan papers indicates that the firm worked on the Winona Theatre during the years 1936-1940 and again in 1950. One of those projects was probably the one in which the original Romanesque Revival facade was covered by one in the Streamline Modern style.

winonakid on September 26, 2013 at 3:43 am

As I stated before, the Opera House did show movies as early as 1915 (I found an ad for “Birth Of A Nation”). After it became the Winona Theater, they did continue to stage plays in addition to showing movies. I attended some plays there as late as the 1970s.

winonakid on September 28, 2013 at 1:46 am

The Opera House changed name to the State Theatre in December 1925. The Apollo Theatre took the State Theatre name and this theater was named the Winona Theatre in September 1926.

Chris1982 on July 2, 2014 at 1:50 am

In 1926 the theatres that were listed as open were: WEST END 300 seats, Broadway 350 seats, COLONIAL 800 seats, STRAND 500 seats, and the Opera House 950 seats

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 30, 2018 at 1:27 pm

The original architect of the Winona Opera House was Oscar Cobb. This notice appeared in the “Synopsis of Building News” section of the April, 1892 issue of The Inland Architect and News Record:

“Architect Oscar Cobb: For A. B. Yeomans and H. Choate, at Winona, Minnesota, a three-story theater, 75 by 120; to cost $50,000; pressed brick and stone, tin roof, electric light, steam heat, etc.; the seating capacity will be 1,200.”
The Arcadia Publishing Company’s book Winona, by Walter Bennick, features four early photos of the Opera House on pages 110 and 111 (Google Books preview.) The Opera House opened in December, 1892.

PaulHaney on November 24, 2018 at 4:24 am

The Winona Theater had it’s final film screening on October 16, 1978. The last film shown was (appropriately enough) “The Goodbye Girl”.

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