Ludcke Theatre

116 S. Minnesota Avenue,
Saint Peter, MN 56082

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Additional Info

Architects: Charles Emlen Bell, Menno Schlicter Detweiler

Firms: Bell & Detweiler

Styles: Art Nouveau

Previous Names: St. Peter Opera House

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Ludcke Theatre

The Ludcke Theatre was located in the 100 block of S. Minnesota Avenue, between Broadway Avenue and Park Row. It opened in 1905 as the St. Peter Opera House by brothers Henry and William Ludcke.

It became the Ludcke Theatre in 1930. Seating accomodations included a dress circle near the stage and orchestra pit and balcony seating.

It closed in 1940, it was finally demolished in 1961. The site became a parking lot between the historic Nicollet Hotel and what is now known as Nicollet Plaza.

Contributed by David McGuire

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 28, 2010 at 8:50 am

A theater in St. Peter called variously the Grand Opera House or St. Peter Opera House is listed in various editions of Julius Cahn’s Theatrical Guide from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In the edition of 1897, H.J. Ludeke (that spelling) is listed as the bill poster for the house, and in the 1899-1900 edition he is listed as the manager. In the 1906 edition, the spelling Ludcke was used.

The descriptions of the theater remained the same through this period, saying it was a ground-floor house and giving a seating capacity of 600 or 624. The Minnesota Digital Library has several photos showing the theater. The entrance was in a building that might have dated from as early as the 1860s, but could have been built as late as the 1890s if the town’s architectural taste was very conservative. The entrance is, in any case, of a theatrical style, so it probably wasn’t a converted storefront.

The auditorium was behind it in a fairly utilitarian building with a pitched roof. Auditoriums of that form were being built into the 20th century, but it could have dated from much earlier. Perhaps the original auditorium was destroyed and rebuilt in 1905, but it seems very likely that a theater occupied this site at least as early as the 1890s, and possibly earlier.

One of the photos is from the late 1940s (judging from the cars on the street) and shows the entrance building of the theater, but the taller auditorium building appears to be gone. I can’t tell from the photo if the auditorium was demolished or simply had its upper portion removed. It’s possible that the the auditorium was demolished in the 1940s after the State Theatre opened (a town of St. Peter’s size probably couldn’t have supported two movie houses), but that the entrance building survived until 1961 as retail space.

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on October 30, 2010 at 10:18 am

Also found it listed as the Ludeke Theater?

Owned in 1940 by Berger Amusement Co. of Minneapolis, Minn, Benjamin Berger, President. He had theaters in Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota.

Need more info and more photos.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 28, 2018 at 2:38 am

The April 1, 1905 issue of The Improvement Bulletin said that H. J. Ludcke was taking bids for construction of an opera house at Saint Peter, with plans by Minneapolis architects Bell & Detweiler (Charles Emlen Bell and Menno Schlicter Detweiler.)

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