The following are just a few benchmarks in the development of the movies.

Edison invented a “kinetograph-camera/Kinetoscope-viewer for silent film in 1879.

The world’s first movie theater opened in Paris in 1895.

On August 3, 1898, the first movie in the Twin Cities was shown at the Bijou Opera House in Minneapolis [by theater manager Theodore Hayes]

In February 1900, Rev. Charles Shepherd of Clear Lake brought his Projectoscope, Edison’s latest invention, to St. Louis Park’s Methodist Church to show a series of moving pictures illustrating the Spanish-American War.  (Minneapolis Tribune, February 11, 1900)

Safety film was developed by Eastman in 1901.

Early silents were sometimes shown in the Odd Fellows Hall on the second floor of the Hamilton Block, probably starting around 1905.

The Scenic Theater on Hennepin Avenue opened in 1906. It was Minneapolis’s first theater designed solely for showing movies

F&R opened the Princess, their first theater, on Seventh Street in St. Paul. Patrons got so excited they broke down the doors and smashed the glass.

In 1913 Edison invented the Kinetophone commercial talking picture.




In 1915 movies in St. Louis Park moved from the Odd Fellows Hall across the street to a storefront in the Walker Building.  Jake Werner and Eric Liljenfors opened this new Park Theatre (not to be confused with the Park Theater on Minnetonka Blvd. that opened in 1939) on September 14, 1915. The ad in the St. Louis Park Herald promised “opera chairs, exits and a large isle.” The first program featured a western, two comedies, and a Charlie Chaplin film every Tuesday. The Village Band gave an opening number. Seats cost 10 cents. The next week the Herald reported “Charlie Chaplin has got them all agoing to the movies,” and after a month it was reported that “public opinion of the movies is ‘They are improving every time.’” Proprietors even installed a furnace “so there is no chance of anyone getting cold feet this winter.”  There was a horrendous fire at the Walker Building on February 3, 1917, and the theater did not reopen.


Other theaters (movie and otherwise) advertised in the 1915 St. Louis Park Herald (all located in downtown Minneapolis) were:

  • The Jitney Playhouse (formerly the Bainbridge), located 40 steps off Hennepin Ave.  First Run Feature Photo Plays.  5 cents any seat any time.
  • The Shubert Theatre, home of the Famous Bainbridge Players, presenting “Highest Class Plays at Popular Prices”  All seats 25 cents.
  • The Gayety Theatre, “The Only Real Burlesque Theatre in the City,” located at Washington and First Ave. No.  “Classy Shows, Artistic Scenery”
  • Regent Theatre, 6th and Hennepin.  “Up-To-Date Films”  “Hear the Pipe Organ With the Human Voice”  10 cents any time.
  • New Garden Pure Air Theatre, Hennepin, near 7th Street.  Exclusive Universal Program, 10 cents.
  • The New Palace, 5th and Hennepin.  “Highest Priced Acts in Vaudeville, 5 Acts and Movies”   Prices 10 cents and 20 cents.
  • The Unique, 6th and Hennepin.  Marcus Loew’s Perfect Vaudeville.  “5 Big Feature Acts 5”  “4 Feature Movies 4”  Matinees 10 cents, Evening Prices 10-20-30 cents.
  • Saxe’s Lyric, Hennepin Ave. between 7th and 8th.  “Finest Moving Picture Show in the World.”  All seats 10 cents.
  • The Strand, 7th Street between Hennepin and Nicollet.  Broadway Cast Stars, Always 10 cents.
  • F. & R. Enterprises’ Big New Garrick (Formerly the Miles), Continuous Motion Pictures. 7th Street.  10 cents.


In 1922 mechanical refrigeration was first installed in theaters. Up to this time, theaters had been cooled by having fans blow air over tons of ice.



The Park Theater opened in 1939 as an elegant movie palace.  It closed on May 18, 1980.

The Cooper Theater opened on August 8, 1962 at 5755 Wayzata Blvd. and showed movies in Cinerama.  The theater’s last performances were on January 31, 1991.

Knollwood Plitt Theater (Knollwood 4 Theaters) opened on December 3, 1981 and closed in 1999.  Click on the link for photos of the theaters that sat abandoned until they were demolished in 2014.


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