The Fitzgerald Theater
Opening in 1910, the Fitzgerald Theater is Saint Paul's oldest surviving theater. The theater was heralded as one of the finest in the midwest when it opened as the Sam S. Shubert Theater in 1910. This was one of four other theaters created by Lee and J.J. Schubert. The theater was designed in the shadow of the Maxine Elliot Theater in New York.
Backstory and Context
The theater opened and operated as the Sam S. Shubert Theater. In 1933 it became a movie house and was renamed to The World Theater. In 1994 the theater was named after St. Paul native F. Scott Fitzgerald. On the Shubert Theater's opening night F. Scott Fitzgerald was living on 514 Holly Street in St. Paul and was only 13 years old. Fifteen years later, Fitzgerald published The Great Gatsby.
The theater's first production in 1910 was “The Fourth Estate,” a play about a reporter who went through a court case revolving around the influence of advertisers. The theater opened to acclaim with front-page stories in each of St. Paul’s newspapers, “The Daily News” and the “St. Paul Pioneer Press. These articles praised the design of the theater, which was constructed of concrete and steel. It also praised the physical layout inside the theater itself. The theater had 16 dressing rooms, a stage that could be raised and lowered, a built-in vacuum-cleaning system, and last but not least 2,000 electric lights.
At the time of the theater's opening, Vaudeville productions were the most popular form of entertainment in the country. Prior to the rise of movies, entertainment consisted of skits involving comedians, singers, dancers, acrobats, and ventriloquists. Tickets to shows could be purchased between a quarter to 1.25 per seat.