Category Archives: Unique Movie Theaters
Heights Theater Columbia Heights, MN
The other night I ventured out to see an old classic inside of an older classic. The beautifully maintained one-screen Heights Theater in Columbia Heights, MN was playing the film, The Window (1949) as part of a recent RKO “Film Noir” film festival that is still going on this month.
The Heights Theater is a nostalgic escape. It is 92 years old! It was built in 1926. Originally, it was used for local stage plays and vaudeville acts, besides a simple movie house.
I was last at this theater a handful of years ago for a Thanksgiving showing of Bringing Up Baby (1938). Before that, I attended part of a weekend movie marathon there when I was a teenager.
That movie marathon became part of “The Guinness Book of World Records.” People had the unique opportunity to stay overnight all weekend in the theater (they brought blankets, pillows, toothbrush, etc.). If they stayed the whole weekend and attended every movie that played each day, then they got their names into “The Guinness Book of World Records” (supposedly, but I never fully looked into that).
If my memory serves me correctly, I went to that movie marathon back then during two of the three days of that weekend. I was there specifically to see Laurel & Hardy, and I think even The Three Stooges on the big screen. I also stayed for a couple of feature films, but I cannot remember the titles.
Each time that I have been to the Heights Theater, it looks better than the time before. The owner of the theater is Tom Letness. He also owns the Dairy Queen next door. Both businesses were featured during said movie marathon. Letness has ensured painstaking restorations which have brought this little Historic Theater back to its former glory.
This little piece of history will transport you back to a simpler time. There is a certain elegance and sentiment that wafts throughout the lobby. It is a subtle hint of what to expect when you are actually in the theater, itself.
The theater is an antique and it has been maintained in the same way that you would treat an antique, with care and precision. There are so many details that bring you back to the atmosphere of old, like the vintage twinkling chandeliers on the ceilings overhead, the flickering marquee above the sidewalk outside, the organ player playing with care before the showing of each film, the gorgeous art posters adorning the walls, the old-fashioned red curtains opening and closing across the small screen before and after the show, and the real butter on the reasonably priced popcorn. These are among many other things that I have left out for you to see for yourself.
The preservation of this Historic Theater is impressive. It’s a movie lover’s paradise. It is definitely worth the visit, if you’ve never been before.
There is an upcoming Alfred Hitchcock Film Festival that I will likely attend. The classics often make a very fitting return to this classic theater.
Emagine Willow Creek Theater in Plymouth, MN
Gone are the days of the singing candy boxes dancing across the screen along with the trailers before the feature film. Gone are the days of the Cineplex Odeon Cinema. Muller Family no longer owns this theater. Emagine has redefined what I call my “home theater.” The Willow Creek Theater has come a long way, and I’ve been along for the whole ride.
This movie theater opened in 1989. It is the first theater that I remember visiting as a child.
I visited the nearby General Cinemas Shelard Park Theater in St. Louis Park since I was in the womb up until near the time that theater closed. However, I’ve kept coming back to Willow Creek.
Willow Creek has always been more memorable and it has stood the test of time. The evolution of this theater has been a sight to see. Emagine has made some very tasteful upgrades that has transformed this movie house into a new kind of awesome.
These days, theaters need the cushy recliners in order to compete. A bar and restaurant is also becoming the norm. Willow Creek has all of that and more. The popular film themed paintings on the walls are a nice added touch. It classes the joint up, along with the chandelier in the entryway and the weeping willows.
This place is almost a classic. I have spent many a bag of popcorn exploring the movie world here. The movies change, but this theater still feels like home.
I went to the movies in Paris the other day…
I ventured to St. Michael Cinema 15 in St. Michael, Minnesota for the first time, finally. It’s a beautiful theater made up to look like Paris, France. The lobby is gorgeous!
Apparently, they have a 70 foot “Eiffel Screen” that is supposed to be pretty awesome. Hopefully I will be able to experience a film on that screen in the future, as I will certainly be returning to that theater in the near future.
They have free refills on any size soda and popcorn. They have a bar and restaurant on the second floor.
The front few rows inside of the theater that I was in had the cozy reclining seats. The back half of the theater still had nice upright seats. It was good to have the option, and I’m sure that way they are able to fit more people in each theater. The big recliners take up a lot of space in theaters and cuts back on the amount of seats in each theater.
Overall, it was an impressive theater and I had fun checking it out. I should’ve taken more pictures. I just wanted to share this with you because I thought it was pretty cool.