Unique Theatre

520 Hennepin Avenue,
Minneapolis, MN 55402

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Finkelstein & Ruben, Publix

Firms: Bertrand & Chamberlin

Styles: Renaissance Revival

Nearby Theaters

UNIQUE Theatre; Minneapoli8s, Minnesota.

When the 1,000-seat Unique Theatre opened on Hennepin Avenue in 1904, it was attended by dignataries and the mayor of Minneapolis, with ushers attired in 18th century costume and powdered wigs.

Although originally primarily a vaudeville house, the Unique Theatre (which its management advertised it in the papers as a “family theatre”) also presented movies and sing-alongs early on.

In the early years of the 20th century, a young (and practically unknown) Charlie Chaplin appeared in the Twin Cities for the first time on the Unique Theatre’s stage, the main reason the theatre is remembered today.

Though the Unique Theatre closed by 1933, and has long since been demolished, as plaque near the spot where the theatre once stood (at a bus shelter) makes note of Chaplin’s appearance there.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

Sean Ryan
Sean Ryan on November 11, 2003 at 12:42 pm

The marquee of the theater was supported on big cast iron columns over the sidewalk on Hennepin. One wall of the theater was shared with the Mason’s Hall (now the Hennepin Center for the Arts). One of the original columns is still embeded on the corner of the Masons' building which can be seen on NE corner facing Hennepin. The Shubert Theatre was moved the site adjacent to the Unique site where the West Hotel once stood. An ambitious plan to create a glass atrium between the Mason’s Building and the Shubert is awaiting funding. Hopefully they will preserve this little chunk of the Unique’s forgotten history.

A link or two for pictures:

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Sean Ryan
Sean Ryan on May 7, 2004 at 1:03 pm

A picture of the Unique Theater circa 1908.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 2, 2012 at 8:18 pm

Advertising for the Fire Proof Door Company in the 1906 edition of Sweet’s Catalogue of Building Construction included a photo of the copper entrance doors of the Unique Theatre, which can be seen at lower left on this page. The caption identifies the architects of the Unique Theatre as Bertrand & Chamberlain.

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