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The History of the North Garden Theater


The North Garden Theater was once the Garden Theater - a 500 seat movie theater built in 1915. The Garden Theater operated as a movie theater until the early 1960s. For a time after that, it built and warehoused coffins as the Twin Cities Coffin Company. In the later part of the 20th Century it began a slow and unfortunate deterioration. After years of neglect, the derelict building was nearly ordered demolished by the City of St. Paul. At the end of 2015 the current owners, Ryan and Tina North purchased the building and presented a plan to save and revive the old movie theater!

The Shell of a Building

As you can see, we've come a long way. This was the view from the middle of the space looking toward the front door. There was no way (besides that ladder) to get up to the mezzanine level. You can see the sun pouring into the gap between the wall and the ceiling and bricks left behind from years past. 

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This ancient wallpaper features costumed, dancing figures in red and green tones and was found above the entryway in what would have most likely been the lobby. A portion of the wallpaper was kept in our archives!


The Earliest Photo

This is most likely how the theater looked when it was first built, before the renovation in the 40s that added a more flashy marquee. The words above the door say, "Jack Holy and David Lee in THE SQUEALER." 

In this 1930 crime melodrama, a bootlegger orders the death of his rival. Meanwhile the bootlegger's wife dallies with his best friend.


Read more about this film here...

Projection Room

This was how we found what was once the projection room of the Garden Theater. Windows look out onto West 7th Street. The pile of bricks you see were repurposed as the face of our bar and the support of our bathroom hallway bench. This room is now a conference room. It also serves as our secondary "get ready" room for wedding parties.

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Tile Floor

An interesting chunk of the Garden Theater's floor. These tiles were found in the entryway / lobby area.

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A Street Scene

From this view, you are looking down West 7th Street (formerly known as Fort Road) toward downtown Saint Paul. This is a great shot of the second marquee from the late 30s or early 40s featuring an advertisement for "The Three Stooges." You can also see the "Flavor Fried Pop Corn" storefront on the side. We used the lotus flower motif in the design of the North Garden Theater's marquee!


New Construction

We wanted to keep some of the visual history of the interior in tact while providing the necessary upgrades like new plumbing, electric, and HVAC. You can still see the century old brick pillars that hold up the cast iron rafters and wood ceiling.

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