Uptown Theater (Minneapolis)

The Uptown Theatre is one of the oldest surviving theaters in the Twin Cities area. It was in active use from 1916 to 2021.[1]

Uptown Theater
Uptown Theater Minneapolis.jpg
LocationEast Isles, Minneapolis
Coordinates44°56′56.55″N 93°17′55.00″W / 44.9490417°N 93.2986111°W / 44.9490417; -93.2986111Coordinates: 44°56′56.55″N 93°17′55.00″W / 44.9490417°N 93.2986111°W / 44.9490417; -93.2986111
ArchitectLiebenberg and Kaplan
Architectural style(s)Streamline Moderne


The theatre was originally opened as the Lagoon Theater on June 3, 1916. A name change to the Uptown on April 11, 1929, coincided with the installation of sound equipment and a screening of The Dummy. A fire broke out in the ventilation system during Trade Winds on April 25, 1939, but the cinema was rebuilt soon after by the firm of Liebenberg & Kaplan.

This new Uptown Theatre re-opened on November 16, 1939, with The Women. It was designed in streamline moderne, with two incised roundels on the exterior stone facade that portrayed themes of travel and adventure in cinema. Murals in the auditorium depict early explorers gazing at the future Minneapolis and the Father of the Waters presiding over water sprites that symbolize the lakes of the city.

The Uptown closed in 1975 but was purchased and re-opened by the Landmark Theatres chain in 1978. After years of classic double features, the theater began screening foreign and independent films starting with The Coca-Cola Kid in November 1985. The building was deemed a heritage site in 1990 and soon after remodeled their lobby to re-create art moderne and neo-baroque elements.

Landmark closed the theater on January 31, 2012, for renovation and upgrades.[2] The theater re-opened September 14, 2012, showing Sleepwalk with Me.[3] The new design added a full bar and replaced 35mm with digital projection.

The structure has a 60-foot tower that once featured a revolving beam of light marking the Uptown area of Minneapolis and could be seen for miles around. It was the first three-sided vertical tower sign in the country and had to be approved by civil aviation authorities.

The theater stands at one of the busiest intersections in the Uptown area (Hennepin-Lagoon) and has been a landmark in the area for decades. It is also one of the few cinemas in the midwest that offers balcony seating.

The Uptown screened mostly foreign and art films and ran cult films at midnight screenings. It ran The Rocky Horror Picture Show from May 19, 1978, through 1997. The film returned on a monthly basis in 2009.

The theater was known for its often clever and amusing marquees.[4][5]

The theatre was closed in June 2021, as Landmark Theatres was evicted due to unpaid back rent.[1]


  1. ^ a b John Croman (June 7, 2021). "Final curtain for iconic Uptown Theater". kare11.com. Archived from the original on July 11, 2021.
  2. ^ Colin Covert (January 25, 2012). "Uptown Theater closing for renovation next week". Star Tribune. Archived from the original on January 26, 2012.
  3. ^ Colin Covert (September 5, 2012). "New Uptown ready for its closeup". Star Tribune. Archived from the original on March 7, 2016.
  4. ^ Martina Marosi (September 15, 2011). "Maker's Marquee: The Uptown Theatre's employees use the marquee to make their mark". Minnesota Daily. Retrieved August 30, 2018.
  5. ^ Alex Lauer (January 29, 2015). "Uptown Theatre's Best Marquees of 2014". City Pages. Archived from the original on January 30, 2015.

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