The Fitzgerald Theater
The Fitzgerald Theater. (MPR Photo)
Built in 1910 as the Sam S. Shubert Theater, the Fitzgerald Theater
is St. Paul's oldest surviving theater space. One of four special memorial theaters erected by entertainment industry magnates Lee and J.J. Shubert after the death of their brother Sam, the theater was to be a particularly elegant building, patterned after the renowned Maxine Elliot Theater in New York.
When the theater first opened, it was hailed as one of the most beautiful theaters of its day. It was constructed of concrete and steel with a sandstone façade, complete with 16 dressing rooms, a stage that could be raised or lowered by two feet, a built-in vacuum cleaning system and nearly 2,000 electric lights.
In 1933, the theater became a movie house that showed foreign films and was renamed the World Theater to reflect its international film programming.
The theater eventually languished and fell into disrepair.
In 1981, the theater was purchased by Minnesota Public Radio to provide a home base for A Prairie Home Companion. A campaign to "Save the World," led by St. Paul Mayor George Latimer, Garrison Keillor and others, culminated in the full renovation of the theater, which was completed in 1986. In 1994, as the 100th birthday of author and St. Paul native F. Scott Fitzgerald approached, Keillor led an effort to commemorate Fitzgerald's life, which included renaming the theater in his honor.
The Fitzgerald Theater is committed to programming that reflects the audience and mission of Minnesota Public Radio. This 1,000-seat theater acts as MPR's largest broadcast studio, with airwaves reaching millions of people tuned in to A Prairie Home Companion
. Our staged productions commission authors, artists and radio hosts to create intellectually stimulating programs that delight and enlighten our vast public radio community. The Fitzgerald Theater is Saint Paul's oldest theater and celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2010.