February 11, 1912: Art gallery opens within Orpheum Theatre

On this day in Duluth in 1912, an art gallery opened within Duluth’s premier vaudeville theatre, the Orpheum. Newspapers reported the gallery held forty-two original paintings valued at more than $20,000 (over $500,000 today). The gallery was located in the theatre’s upper corridor and lounging rooms. More than 1,000 patrons “inspected the pictures” on opening day. Unfortunately, the newspapers failed to mention one artist or the title of a single painting. The art gallery was a fitting reflection on the site’s past. Duluth’s Masons built the Temple Opera House on the same site—directly behind their Temple Opera Block—and it too contained an art gallery. The Temple Opera House burned in 1895 and its ruins stood for years before being converted to a rollerskating rink. In 1912 Guilford Hartley had the rink torn down to make room for the Orpheum. His estate later built the Orpheum Garage—an automobile parking and maintenance facility—along Superior Street. In 1940 the Minnesota Entertainment Co. renovated both buildings to create the NorShor Theatre. The NorShor also included an art gallery, located at the top of the hall of mirrors in a corridor adjacent to the spiral staircase that led to the second floor mezzanine. Read a history of the Temple Opera House here, of the Orpheum Theater here, and of the NorShor Theatre here.

A lithographic postcard of the Orpheum Theatre made shortly after its opening in 1910. (Image: Zenith City Press)

Subscribe to This Day in Duluth!

You cannot copy content of this page