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NorShor Theatre Posts

Mike Watt at the NorShor Theater: “Eyegifts From Minnesota”

This documentary by Bill Draheim follows Mike Watt and his band at the time, the Jom and Terry Show, as they drive into Duluth and load in for a performance at the NorShor Theater on May 28, 2002. They tour the old R. O. Carlson’s bookstore, do some sightseeing in Canal Park and spend the night at Shaky Ray Records before heading south for shows at the Turf Club in St. Paul and the 7th Street Entry in Minneapolis.

Watt wrote extensively about the tour, and the Duluth stop, on his “Our Oars Became Wings” Tour 2002 Diary. He marvels in the diary and in the film about seeing Lake Superior for the first time. He also mentions in the diary getting a tour of “the secret tunnels” under the NorShor and how it “feels haunted down there.”

Mystery mural found during NorShor Theatre renovation

At a May 31 news conference, Duluth Playhouse Executive & Artistic Director Christine Gradl Seitz showed off a canvas painting discovered by workers busy renovating the NorShor Theatre. The Duluth News Tribune reports the painting was “behind a suspended ceiling that was installed in 1941 when the existing Orpheum Theatre was converted into the NorShor. The grand theater’s original balcony had been concealed and transformed into a makeshift attic. But Gradl Seitz said a careful exploration of the space revealed ‘this beautiful mural, which we believe dates back to 1910, and the original Orpheum.'”

The NorShor is expected to open in early 2018; the Playhouse has a run of the musical Mamma Mia scheduled for Feb. 8-24. Renovation work is about 60 percent complete.

The theater was purchased by the Duluth Economic Development Authority in June 2010 for $2.6 million. The $30.5-million renovation began in summer 2016. It is a partnership between Sherman Associates and DEDA. The 750+ seat theater will serve as an arts center managed by the Duluth Playhouse.

In case you’re looking …

norshor theater stripper stage

NorShor Theatre circa 1960s: Recognize these kids?

NorShor kids

This photo was found in the Duluth Playhouse‘s archives. The kids, enjoying concessions at the NorShor movie theater in what appears to be the 1960s, are listed as: “Sandy Audio? Atto, Otto, Ottio? 5 years” and “Judy Hanson 8 years.”

Norshor Theatre renovations begin

NorShor BarThe deal to restore Duluth’s historic Norshor Theatre has finally come together, and renovation work is underway. Last week, WDSE-TV‘s Almanac North hosts Dennis Anderson and Julie Zenner discussed the project with Duluth Mayor Emily Larson and Duluth Playhouse Executive and Artistic Director Christine Gradl Seitz.

The NorShor Experience: A Strip Club Retrospective

NorShor Experience NorShor Adult Club

It was ten years ago — May 24, 2006 — that the NorShor Theatre first hosted exotic dancers, with two simple words on the marquee: “Live Girls.” Later, the words “Adult Club” would appear above the theater’s new business name: the NorShor Experience.

NorShor Theatre: A Look Inside Before the Restoration

Stripper-Stage-CSUSBTREET

Dan Turner spelunks the NorShor Theatre and Temple Opera Block in the latest feature on his Substreet website. From the projection room to the roof to the squatter’s apartment in the basement, it’s one of the last chances to see things as they were/are. Construction will be begin soon to renovate the NorShor, which will be operated by the Duluth Playhouse.

Projection-Booth-II-CSUSBTREET Rooftop-Cafe-CSUSBTREET Secret-Temple-Opera-Apartment-CSUSBTREET

NorShor redevelopment will not include tower marquee

NorShor Theatre TowerThe announcement in 2013 that the NorShor Theater’s “tower marquee will rise again” appears to have been overly optimistic. During the Duluth City Council’s debate and 8-1 approval of plans to renovate the historic theater, Councilor Joel Sipress noted:

“The tower is not part of this restoration. There is some talk of maybe that being a future endeavor. [I] just don’t want anyone to be disappointed that when this is done the tower isn’t there. So I just thought I would share that with the public.”

Video of the full council debate and public comments is above. Sipress’ brief mention of the tower is at the 37:07 mark.

NorShor Theatre renovation funding in order, ready for approval

Restore the NorShorThe city of Duluth announced in a news release today the restoration Duluth’s historic NorShor Theatre could begin before the end of 2015, with a grand reopening expected in mid 2017, now that the project has finalized its funding sources.

David Montgomery, Duluth’s chief administrative officer, shared details with the City Council during its Monday committee-of-the-whole meeting. He said none of the funding will come from property taxes.

Funding secured for Wade Stadium, Spirit Mountain and NorShor

The state bonding bill that passed the Minnesota Senate today includes funding for Wade Stadium and NorShor Theatre renovation, and construction of a water-delivery system for Spirit Mountain.

“Restoring Wade Stadium will ensure the iconic ball field will continue to be enjoyed by players and fans for decades to come,” Duluth Mayor Don Ness said in a news release. “The Spirit Mountain water project will allow the ski hill to get off of the city’s treated water, saving money and opening up other potential development in the western part of town. The NorShor Theatre & Arts Center will serve as a catalyst for new development in old downtown.”

Video Archive: Light Up the NorShor 2004

Here we are, ten years later, and the marquee at the NorShor hasn’t quite been lit up yet … but it seems like we’re getting close.

The “Light Up the NorShor” fashion show fundraiser was held on Feb. 28, 2004. There must be a video of the entire event somewhere; I seem to remember it aired on public access TV. The show was organized by Adeline Wright and Laura Scheu (who became Laura Ness two months later).

NorShor: Duluth’s big bet on Old Downtown

“Ghosts and spirits make the place. So when you sit down and play a place like the NorShor, not only do you have a group of people sitting around you, but you have another community of history sitting around you, too.” — Charlie Parr

Minneapolis Star Tribune: “Stage set for restoration of NorShor Theatre in Duluth

NorShor tower to return

Remember two-and-a-half years ago when we speculated about bringing back the old NorShor tower?

Apparently, the speculation is over.

Developer: NorShor Theatre’s tower marquee will rise again

The story seems to indicate the tower will be built from scratch rather than refurbished, which leaves open the question of what happened to the original tower.

For a further historical refresher course: NorShor Theatre Historical Slide Show

NorShor Theatre Preliminary Designs

Six-page PDF of NorShor Theatre preliminary schematic designs

NorShor Needs & Assessment

The Playhouse and Westlake Reed Leskosky architects are holding needs and assessment surveys on the NorShor Theatre this week. Here’s your chance to chime in.

“If you are interested in having a voice, which we highly encourage you to do, please take some time to fill out this survey. Time is of the essence on this front as Westlake Reed Leskosky will be returning next week to conduct meetings with interested groups. The survey is available here: NorShor Programming Questionnaire.

To schedule a meeting time with the architechts to discuss and voice your opinions please send an email to [email protected] with your availability. We will be scheduling times between 8am and 6pm on January 25th and 26th.”