“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Sioux Falls in Minnehaha County, South Dakota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)

Orpheum Theater

Orpheum Theater Marker (<i>panel 1</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, August 21, 2016
1. Orpheum Theater Marker (panel 1)
(panel 1)
On October 2, 1913, the grand opening of the Orpheum Theater at 315 N. Phillips Avenue was a full-dress affair with patrons paying the unheard of price of $5 per seat. First nighters were entertained with a full line-up. Entertainment included: music by the Orpheum Concert Orchestra; acts including, "An Evening in Honolulu," which featured vocalists, instrumentalists, and dancers; White's posing animals; two different comedy acts; and screen projections of Pathe news.

The Orpheum is the oldest existing theater in Sioux Falls. It was built for the Solari brothers in 1913 at a cost of $63,200. The theater incorporates elements of the Prairie style and Neo-Classical Revival in its architecture. The facade of the building is constructed of a polychromatic, light-gray colored terra cotta block that resembles marble. John and Frank Solari designed the 1,000-seat Orpheum to be a state-of-the-art theater for the staging of vaudeville. A railroad spur led to the theater back door, which enabled performers to unload their animals, props, instruments, and wardrobe trunks straight onto the stage.

In 1919, the theater
Orpheum Theater Marker (<i>panel 2</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, August 21, 2016
2. Orpheum Theater Marker (panel 2)
was sold to Finkelstein and Ruben, a major theater management firm. It is surmised that at the time J.J. Liebenberg, who designed many commissions for Finkelstein and Ruben, did work on the building. In the early 1920s, repertory theatre became popular at the Orpheum. Stock companies performed the current play for one week while at the same time they rehearsed a second play to be performed the following week. During this time, tenants of the small shop spaces located in the front of the building included a confectioner, several grocers, some clothiers, and a barber. Small apartments were located above the two shops on the second floor.

The Orpheum remained in use as a vaudeville house until 1927 when it was sold to Minnesota Amusement Co., who converted it into a B-movie and second run theater. The building slowly declined into disuse until it was purchased by the Sioux Falls Community Playhouse (SFCP) in 1954.

The first performance SFCP produced on the Orpheum stage was SEPARATE ROOMS. This production starred Lyle Talbot, a prolific actor in movies, television, and stage. Talbot had starred in SEPARATE ROOMS on Broadway in the 1940s, and was also one of the founding members of the Screen Actors Guild. Another famous actor to grace the stage during SFCP's ownership was Ann B. “Schultzy” Davis. In 1963, Davis stepped in for Anne Zabel who was injured
Orpheum Theater Marker (<i>panel 1; tall view; on pillar left of main front entrance</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, August 21, 2016
3. Orpheum Theater Marker (panel 1; tall view; on pillar left of main front entrance)
in an accident four days before opening night of EVERYBODY LOVES OPAL. Miss Davis had been touring the past two summers playing the same role, and being a personal friend of Director Bill Cohen, flew into Sioux Falls to ensure that the show went on. In addition to the five shows performed during each main stage season, SFCP also presented touring productions of other theatre companies, including both the Guthrie Theater, and the National Players of Washington, D.C. In 1961, Mrs. John Tilton, wife of the playhouse director, organized the Children's Theatre and Teen Theatre, which later was combined into the Young People's Theatre.

(panel 2)
At the time the Sioux Falls Community Playhouse purchased the Orpheum Theater in 1954, the theater had seating for 876 patrons. In 1975, Spitznagel Partners of Sioux Falls rehabilitated the theater, which included stuccoing the exterior of the side and rear brick walls. A stucco-clad 30’x50’ addition was built near the alley on the north side of the building in 1978. The theater underwent a remodel the same year, which included new seats, and reduced the number of seating to 692.

Referred to as the “King of Clubs Building,” the 44’x150’ building at 319 N. Phillips Avenue was built in 1949; this was the last historic 44’x150’ building to be constructed in the district. The building has concrete block
Orpheum Theater Marker (<i>panel 2; tall view; on pillar right of main front entrance</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, August 21, 2016
4. Orpheum Theater Marker (panel 2; tall view; on pillar right of main front entrance)
walls, and a tan colored brick veneer facade set in a running bond. The structure was built with a large open space in the back, for use as a bar and dance club. The side and rear walls of the building were stuccoed in the 1980s.

Upon the building's completion in 1949, King of Clubs and Imperial Liquor Store occupied the street level of the building, and Bob's Floor Covering leased the second floor. Businesses in the building changed on an almost yearly basis, partly reflecting the declining importance of downtown. King of Clubs was replaced by another club in 1951, Bob's Floor Covering was gone by 1952, and Imperial Liquor moved out in 1954. Later tenants of the building included a dressmaker, a sod company, a travel agent, and several other bars including the Cabana Club from 1955 — 1962.

The City of Sioux Falls purchased the King of Clubs building in 1994, which had most recently housed the Rainbow Bar and Lime Light Casino; the city then entered into a contract-for-deed agreement with the Sioux Falls Community Playhouse on the building, and it was renamed Actor's Studio by SFCP. SFCP began construction on a link between the Orpheum Theater and the Actor's Studio in 1995.

The Sioux Falls Community Playhouse performed in and rented the space until 2002, with a Sioux Falls Jazz and Blues concert, Mose Allison, as the last performance under
Orpheum Theater (<i>view from Phillips Avenue</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, August 21, 2016
5. Orpheum Theater (view from Phillips Avenue)
SFCP's ownership. The City of Sioux Falls purchased the Orpheum, Link, and Actor's Studio in 2003, and contracted SMG to manage the facility. With help from SMG, the city restored the facility to its full use and named the entire facility "The Orpheum Theater Center." This latest remodel further reduced the seating to 688, and includes accessible seating. As of 2012, permanent residents of the building included CityLink, and the Sioux Falls Municipal Band; frequent users of the building included the Sioux Empire Community Theatre, the Sioux Falls Jazz and Blues Society, The Comfort Theatre Company, Balleraena, Main Stage Ballet, Dance Gallery, Dynamic Cheer & Dance, Triple S Dance, Children's Care Hospital & School, Jade Pets, The Collective Efforts Union, Pepper Entertainment, and many other community and professional organizations.

In 1983, the Orpheum Theater was listed on the national register of historic places. These historical plaques were created in honor of the centennial celebration of the Orpheum Theater.
Location. 43° 33.031′ N, 96° 43.62′ W. Marker is in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in Minnehaha County. Marker is on North Phillips Avenue north of East 7th Street, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. This is a framed "poster-style" 2-panel marker, mounted at eye-level, directly on the front of the subject building, on either side of the main front entrance, facing Phillips Avenue. Marker is at or near this postal address: 315 North Phillips Avenue, Sioux Falls SD 57104, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Andrew Kuehn Company (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Fort Dakota, D.T. (about 500 feet away); Jewett Bros. & Jewett Warehouse (about 600 feet away); The Hanging of an Innocent Man (about 700 feet away); President William McKinley (about 700 feet away); Early Sioux Falls (about 700 feet away); Urban Renewal (about 700 feet away); Recreation (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Sioux Falls.
Regarding Orpheum Theater. National Register of Historic Places (1983)
Also see . . .
1. Orpheum Theatre. Known for its superb acoustics, the theater receives over 100,000 visitors each year, and events there include plays, concerts, community events and private rentals. The Orpheum Theatre is rumored to be haunted by a ghost who has been named named “Larry”, whose identity is unknown, but was thought to have been either a construction worker or stagehand in life. (Submitted on October 6, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

2. National Register of Historic Places Nomination. This link presents the original National Register of Historic Places nomination form for the Orpheum Theater. (Submitted on October 6, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
Categories. ArchitectureArts, Letters, MusicEntertainment
More. Search the internet for Orpheum Theater.
Credits. This page was last revised on October 8, 2018. This page originally submitted on October 3, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 45 times since then and 7 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on October 6, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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