Regent Theatre

303 Grant Avenue,
Eveleth, MN 55734

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 16, 2013 at 10:36 pm

I came across a Duluth Herald item about the Othello Theatre, dated January 29, 1910. It referred to the house as a new theater. It’s the first paragraph of the Gilbert news section on this page. Then a July 22, 1915, Herald item says that the old Othello Theatre in Eveleth was to be boarded up by order of the health department (left column of this page.)

I now can’t find the item about the Strand that I thought was from 1912, so I might have gotten sloppy when I noted it down. It’s quite possible that the earliest actual reference to it is from early 1916, in which case it could well have been the Bijou renamed. The reference I thought was from 1912 was probably from 1917. The earliest reference to the Bijou I’ve found is in an issue of Variety from May, 1908. The latest is from The Moving Picture World of October 2, 1915, so I don’t think that the Bijou and the Othello were the same house.

rvarani on November 16, 2013 at 7:51 pm

I’ve heard two stories. First, the Strand opened originally as the Bijou Second, there was another theatre that burned down around 1915. It could have opened as the Bijou, but it came down as the Othello. The Eveleth Elks Club replaced it. I believe this theatre was a vaudeville house. These are stories I’ve heard over 60 year ago.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 16, 2013 at 7:29 pm

rvarani, as you know where these theaters were, maybe you’d like to add them to Cinema Treasures. Just start with the “Submit Your Favorite” box on the site’s home page.

I’ve also come across a couple of references to a house called the Bijou Theatre in Eveleth, from 1908 and 1915. As the Strand and Empress were both operating before and after 1915, the Bijou must have been yet another theater.

rvarani on November 16, 2013 at 7:07 pm

The Empress building was used as a Woolworth Five & Dime, Russell’s Mens Clothing Store. It is now part of the Wells Fargo Bank. (Note the picture, the Empress was next to the old First National Bank.) The Strand Theatre was accross Grant Ave. from the Grant Theatre. Was a garage in my day.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 16, 2013 at 7:04 pm

I should have checked the photos. I see that the Empress appears in one of them. In Google Street View it looks like the building has a new front and is part of the Wells Fargo Bank.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 16, 2013 at 6:53 pm

rvarani, you posted your comment while I was still writing mine. I’m not surprised that the Regent ended up without its balcony. I was wondering how they could have stretched that $12,000 budget to build one. It probably had to be left out due to lack of funds.

I’ve been trying to find out which building across the street from the Regent was the location of the Empress Theatre. It was supposed to have been a wood framed building, and it looks like a few are still standing on that side of the street. The Empress was in operation by 1912, though Rabinowitz was not running it at that time.

I have no clue where the Strand was located.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 16, 2013 at 6:42 pm

Here is one of several items about Frank Rabinowitz’s theater project at Eveleth that appeared in various issues of The American Contractor in late 1918:

“M. P. Theater: $12,000. 1 sty. & balcony. 25x125. Eveleth, Minn. Archts. Holstead & Sullivan, Palladio bldg., Duluth. Engr. W. K. Robertson, 4321 Fremont av., S., Minneapolis, Minn. Owner Frank Rabinowitz, Empress & Strand Theater, Eveleth. Brk. Ready to fig. abt. Sept. 27.”
Abraham Holstead and William J. Sullivan ran Duluth’s leading architectural firm of the period, and have many impressive buildings to their credit.

rvarani on November 16, 2013 at 6:28 pm

The Regent had no balcony.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 16, 2013 at 6:16 pm

The December 7, 1918, issue of The Moving Picture World had this item about the new theater soon to be built in Eveleth:

“EVELETH, MINN.— Virginia Builders Supply & Contracting Company, Virginia, Minn., has the contract to erect one-story and balcony moving picture theatre, 25 by 125 feet, for Frank Rabinowitz, Empress and Strand Theatre, Duluth, to cost $12,000.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 16, 2013 at 4:05 pm

The Regent Theatre in Eveleth was opened around 1920 by Frank Rabinowitz, the father of Marc Rabwin, who would later become one of the best known physicians on California’s movie colony. The future Dr. Rabwin himself even operated the Regent and an older house across the street called the Empress for about a year. Around 1924, Rabinowitz sold his theaters in Eveleth and moved to California, where his sons had already relocated.

The Regent is mentioned a few times in Judy, Gerold Frank’s biography of Judy Garland, whose father, Frank Gumm, was an exhibitor in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, and a friend of Marc Rabwin’s (Google Books preview). Frank says that when Ethel Gumm, pregnant with an unwanted third child, sought medical student Rabwin’s advice about getting an abortion, Rabwin advised against it. I would hope that Liza Minnelli at least puts flowers on his grave now and then.

rvarani on March 20, 2010 at 12:30 pm

The Regent had a small pipe organ (I believe it was called a “Movieola”) This organ was covered by a plywood wall that had been built four feet in front of the back wall of the theatre when sound was installed. Organ was set up to use old piano rolls. Organ was still working at the end. Every now and then we would go into the theatre during the day and play the organ. Had to remove a sheet of plywood to get to the organ.

The original slate screen from the silent days was still attached to the back wall of the theatre behind the sound screen. This slate screen had been painted black so as not to reflect through the sound screen.

rvarani on March 19, 2010 at 5:24 pm

Oh boy! The Regent had 400 seats. It was purchased by the Crouse family from Publix around 1935. Originally an F & R Theatre. The F & R Logo is still at the top of the front of the building. I worked as the projectionist from 1952 until the theatre closed for good in June of 1954. Ran the last show. I still have many many fond memories. Also, have several pictures. Booth was equipt with Western Electric Universal Bases and Sound, Simplex Standard Projection Heads, and Jewell 1 kw Arc Lamps. The Universal Bases still had the two drive shafts and chain drive take ups. More later.