The History of Motion Picture theaters in River Falls

The first movies shown in River Falls were shown on July 14, 1901 in the River Falls Opera House. These mo v ies were of short subjects and of course were silent. The first dedicated theater called the Electric Theater Company was located at 124 N. Main Street from May until July 1908. The theater then moved to a building at 114 E . Elm Street that was previously the River Falls Times newspaper building. The Theater was ran by a conglomerate of local men, George Pratt, Fred Pratt, Harry Reynolds and John Lowe.

The theater did not last and a different company, the Northern Amusement company took over and renamed the theater the Gem in November 1909. The first movie shown there was called Land of Little Brown, a movie so obscure now that it is not in the Imdb . Abraham N. Wolff of Rochester, New York was the manager and Frank Frion, of Rice Lake became the projectionist. showtimes were 7,8, and 9 pm with admission set at 5 and 10 cents . It was a thrill in June 1911 when local River Falls girl Anna Dodge Hernandez's (born here in 1867) movie Widow of Mill Creek Flats was shown there. Movies were shown there continuously until 1915 when a new theater the Princess opened at 114 N. Main Street.
The building had been a saloon since it was built in 1882 and when prohibition was inacted in River Falls, the proprietor, Ben Rosenberg change the building to a movie theater.

After a fire in January 1926 destroyed three 1870s buildings on the west side of Main street housing the River Falls Cafe, Bjerstedt and Benson's Mens clothing store and Curtis Johnson's feed store, wheels were set in motion for a new and more modem theater.

The Falls Theater was built from January to July 1927 at a cost of $25,000 . Ole Ostness was the local contractor, John Probst, the interior designer and Phil Ramer and Emil Carisch the local owners. Leather seats, velour curtains, two rest rooms available and a two reel Simplex Projector were some of the modem inovations at the new Falls Theater. The George E . Miner Amusement Company, of Rice Lake
would lease the theater from 1927 until 1952. On August 29 , 1927 the Theater opend to a packed crowd filling the 476 seats to capacity. The first movie shown was Painting the Town , a silent comedy by director William Craft.

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