Chateau Theater

Downtown Rochester

Chateau Theater

Rochester, Minnesota 55902, United States

Created By: History Center of Olmsted County


Shortly after the close of the Civil War, Rochester pioneer William Dodge opened a lumber business on the eventual site of this theatre. Over the next 60 years, the city eventually surrounded the lumber yard. With expansion now impossible, Dodge’s daughter-in-law Alice chose to sell property to M.L. Finkelstien and I.H. Ruben for the purpose of a theatre.

Unique in its design, the theatre’s architecture was called “atmospheric,” a complimentary companion to the make-believe that is the movies.

On October 26, 1927, 1500 men and women, dressed in formal evening wear, were invited to the opening of what would become a landmark property for Rochester, the Dodge-Chateau Theatre.

A reporter wrote, “One really imagines an evening strolling through a 14th century French village, overhead stars twinkle against midnight blue while fleecy clouds float past, it’s incredible.” Generations of Rochesterites and visitors from round the world would have memories of the Chateau.

In the late 1970s, developers made plans for an office building that included the footprint of the Chateau. A “Save the Chateau” grassroots movement was organized and after protests from the citizens of Rochester against the city of Rochester, those plans were changed.

The last movie, It Happened One Night, played on October 2, 1983, after which the building was converted to retail space that included a Barnes and Noble Bookstore.

With developers again on the prowl after the bookstore closed, the city purchased the building with then-mayor Ardell Brede vowing to stand in front of any bulldozer coming for the Chateau.

History Center of Olmsted County

This point of interest is part of the tour: Downtown Rochester


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