Fort Snelling was renowned for its recreational opportunities for servicemen and their families. One of the most popular activities for families was to go to the post theatre. The original theatre was nothing fancy. It was built around the turn of the century but greatly altered in the mid-1920s. The theatre was a wooden structure with hardwood floors and 12’ ceilings. The entire theatre was just over 3,000 square-feet and seated up to 438 people. The original theatre stood near the post school and the guardhouse, near where Building 66 is today.
As movies became more popular, the U.S. War Department thought it would be beneficial to add a movie theater to the post. Construction on the new state-of-the-art theater took place in 1931 and cost over $30,000 to build. The new brick building opened on December 12, 1931, to a sold-out crowd. The movie theater boasted almost 6,000 square-feet of space, a 15’ screen, seats for as many as 574 people, and was air-conditioned. Snacks and beverages could be purchased in the lobby before the show. The theater quickly became the most used recreational facility on the post.
The new movie theater took away the crowds that once flocked to the original theatre. By 1932 the Quartermaster made the decision to salvage the original theatre building. It was removed and parts of the building were reused in other areas of the fort. The movie theater stood beside the Recreation Building (#53) until it was demolished to make way for the exit from Highway 55 to Highway 5.
Commonly Known As: Post Movie Theater
Building Number: 52 (original theatre C-2)
Year built: 1931
Last year of occupancy: Unknown
Square footage: 5,914