1910, 1935, 2011
Built in 1910, to accommodate The Shubert Theatrical Company of New York, the Shubert Theatre is the oldest legitimate theatre in Minneapolis.
The Shubert Theatrical Company was run by brothers Levi, Samuel, and Jacob, and by 1920, the Company was the largest theater owning company in the United States. When Samuel died in a train wreck in 1905, the brothers memorialized him by naming several new theatres after him including one in St. Paul (now called the Fitzgerald Theatre) and one in Minneapolis.
The theatre was designed by William Swasey and built at a cost of $250,000. The front of the building had a Classical Revival façade with four pairs of bas-relief columns framing three arched windows on the second floor. The façade is composed of glazed terracotta with a granite base. It is a mid-sized theatre consisting of 1,500 seats with two balconies.
Opening night featured The White Sister starring Viola Allen, an American stage actress who starred in over two dozen Broadway productions from 1885 to 1916. Alexander Bainbridge became the Shubert’s manager. Bainbridge created a resident acting ensemble. Tickets ranged from $ .50 to $2.50.
In 1910, Bainbridge formed the Bainbridge Players which had become, per the Minneapolis Journal on August 24, 1929, the “oldest and most widely known stock organization in the country.” Bainbridge spent $50,000 in 1929 updating the structure for its 19th season.
The theatre was initially a stock company house, then a vaudeville and burlesque showplace.
In 1915, The Shubert began to play movies (as well as continue its live theatre) accompanied by a forty-piece orchestra.
In 1918, the flu epidemic closed all the theatres in Minneapolis. Bainbridge disbanded the Players in 1933. He became the mayor of Minneapolis from 1933 until 1935.
In 1935, the Shubert reopened as the Alvin Theatre, named after its new owner, William Alvin Steffes. Steffes added the Art Deco marque and continued with both movies and live theatre until December of 1940. Two months later, it reopened as a Burlesque venue and continued as such until 1953. Gypsy Lee and Dudley Riggs both performed at the Alvin.
In 1953, the theatre was briefly home to Minneapolis Evangelical Auditorium
The Theatre subsequently became a movie theatre, known as the Academy, running from the mid-1950s, featuring first-run movies. The theatre closed in 1982.
The Theatre was operated by Ted Mann hosting the Minneapolis premiere of Around the World in 80 Days, produced by Michael Todd. Todd, who was a candy vendor in the old Shubert Theatre, attended the premiere with his wife, Elizabeth Taylor.
Beginning in 1982, the Shubert sat vacant at its original address at 22 North 7th Street. Suburban multiplexes were replacing single-screen movie houses.
In 1987, the Minneapolis City Council approved plans for the redevelopment of what came to be known as Block E. The development threatened the Shubert. The Block, with the exception of the Shubert, was razed. In 1990, the Heritage Preservation Commission convinced the City not to demolish The Shubert. In 1996, was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Artspace suggested moving the Shubert a quarter mile out of Block E to its current location, 516 Hennepin Avenue.
It took twelve days to move the 6-million-pound building on rubber tires through a succession of parking lots to its new location in February of 1999. The building traveled 150 feet per day, with the move costing $4.7 million. The renovation was done at a cost of $38 million.
As of 2011, the former Shubert Theatre, now known as the Goodale Theater, is part of The Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts, which features the 500-seat Goodale, eight-story Masonic Temple, built in 1888, and a newer-construction atrium connecting the two buildings.