Majestic Theater

Downtown Rochester

Majestic Theater

Rochester, Minnesota 55902, United States

Created By: History Center of Olmsted County


Rochester entrepreneur J.E. Reid’s vision for a vaudeville playhouse became a reality after he bought a vacated building and remodeled it into the Majestic Theater. The Majestic had only 200 seats at original location, but its tiny stature didn’t diminish its place in the hearts of vaudeville and silent picture enthusiasts. It opened to great aplomb on September 21, 1908, with the Rochester Daily Bulletin proclaiming it “The Daintiest Amusement Place in the Northwest.” The opening night’s entertainment featured “The Huntleys,” a Winona vaudeville group owned and headlined by the husband and wife team of Ben and Myrtle Huntley. Their lavish performances included dancing, singing, comedic sketches, dramatic acrobatics and extravagant costumes. In addition, Ben Huntley shot silent films and showcased them in his shows, using a live orchestra for music and special sound effect equipment. “The Huntleys” had gained fame across the Midwest and their business cards claimed they were the “Monarchs of Pictorial Amusement” with “2 tons of costumes and electrical equipment.” Rochester residents were excited to see them perform and the vaudeville troupe was booked for a one-week engagement following opening night. Reid spared no expense on his theater, including installing an intricate water pipe system into the film projector booth. Since the first filmstrips were made from highly flammable nitrate material, fire was a valid concern, supported by many incidents across the country where moviegoers perished when fire engulfed theaters. By the end of 1909, Reid had relocated his theater to a new location along Broadway.

History Center of Olmsted County

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


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