The NorShor: “The Northwest’s most spectacular theater”

As those working on the $30 million renovation of Duluth’s NorShor Theatre race to finish the project in time for the scheduled opening on February 1, we thought it was about time we shared our history of the NorShor. To illustrate the piece, we were fortunate enough to have access to Jim Heffernan’s collection of historic photos of the theatre taken in September, 1941, two months after it first opened. We also found a few more from the same period in the Duluth Public Library, and Midwest Architectural Archives was kind enough to provide more—including the architects’ sketches of the NorShor’s 1941 interior design—including the image below, of a proposed relief mural depicting the movie industry that didn’t make it into the final plans. One of my favorite “did you know?” facts associated with the NorShor (and there are many) is that the NorShor itself is technically not a building. It is a theatre built inside two buildings, the 1912 Orpheum Theatre and the 1926 Orpheum Service Garage, designed as a parking ramp with retail storefronts (and today called the Orpheum Annex or NorShor Annex). Please enjoy our history of the NorShor, “the Northwest’s most spectacular theater,” here.

Architects Liebenberg & Kaplan’s sketch for a mural depicting the film industry. It was not included in the NorShor’s final design. (Image: Midwest Architectural Archives)

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