Orpheum Theatre

218 S. Lincoln Street,
Aberdeen, SD 57401

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 28, 2016 at 2:25 pm

A history of Aberdeen’s business district, The Town in the Frog Pond (PDF here) by Don Artz, includes quite a bit about Aberdeen’s theaters, including the Orpheum.

The Orpheum opened in 1913 as the Aberdeen Theatre, and became the Orpheum in 1914. The house was built by Ben Ward, owner of the adjacent Radison Hotel, to the lobby of which the theater was connected by an indoor passage. From its opening, the theater was operated by Harry Walker, who later gained control of all of Aberdeen’s theaters. The original seating capacity was about 800.

During the 1920s the Orpheum frequently operated as a combination house (one feature film with a few acts of vaudeville on the same bill) but also hosted road shows that came to Aberdeen. In 1914 it also hosted the only summer stock company in the Dakotas.

The PDF to which I linked has a drawing of the Orpheum on page 48. It was a three story building with three bays, the wide center bay featuring a large arch filled with the windows of the upper two floors, surmounted by an arched parapet. The narrower side bays were treated as towers, topped by arched attic floors capped with low domes and short but ornate finials each sporting a flagpole. The overall effect was unusual but not displeasing. I’d consider the exterior style a late manifestation of Art Nouveau, and it was considerably fancier than the interior seen in the photo to which Broan linked earlier.

Chris1982 on July 19, 2014 at 1:31 pm

The Orpheum was open in 1925 with seating listed at 650, it was still open in the late 1950’s. It was operated by Paramount Pictures in its early years.

Broan on January 19, 2009 at 8:04 pm

that should appear Image

Broan on January 19, 2009 at 8:02 pm

a likely photo of this appears in the journal The American City, feb 1916, p 161. Here

jkirsch on November 3, 2005 at 4:33 am

The orpheum was demolished, probably in the 1970s. Some ill-guided effort to build a parking ramp in that block also failed — the ramp was unstable and poorly built, and also had to be demolished.