July 11, 1941: The NorShor Theatre opens

On this day in 1941, the NorShor Theatre opened for the first time, showing Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour in Caught in the Draft, a war comedy theatre manager Earl Long promised had been “shattering box office records on its first runs in New York and Chicago.” Long also made sure the newspaper reported that “[the Norshor] features an entirely new style of theater architecture, a style so radical from accepted standards that the Norshor has already earned the distinction of being more sensational than New York’s Radio City.” The Art-Deco inspired NorShor had been created by renovating Duluth’s Orpheum Theatre, originally built in 1910 as a vaudeville house (The Opheum itself was built on the site of the former Temple Opera House). For the NorShor, architects essentially reversed the Orpheum’s floor plan, placing the stage and screen where the balcony had been, and vice versa. The NorShor featured many innovations many thought would be copied throughout the country, including a Milk Bar, which sold only dairy product, adjacent to the Arrowhead Lounge, where patrons could enjoy a smoke (special air conditioning was said to ensure a relatively smoke-free environment). The NorShor is currently undergoing a multi-million dollar restoration with plans to reopen in 2018.

The NorShor Theatre photographed in September, 1941. (Image: Zenith City Press)