Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

In Luverne: “Go digital or go dark” August 29, 2013

The entry to the historic Palace Theatre in downtown Luverne, Minnesota.

The entry to the historic Palace Theatre in downtown Luverne, Minnesota.

THE DOORS TO THE OLD THEATRE were locked, much to my dismay, on a recent Saturday visit to Luverne in extreme southwestern Minnesota.

Charming exterior art.

Charming exterior art.

If only I could have gotten inside to view the original painted wall panels, stage curtains, pipe organ, and artistic wall and ceiling décor inside the 1915 Palace Theatre.

I am a fan of old theatres and of old buildings in general. But you know that if you’ve followed Minnesota Prairie Roots.

That's ReBorn, in the right corner of the city-owned theatre building at 102 E. Main Street.

The city-owned Palace Theatre at 102 E. Main Street, operated by the nonprofit Blue Mound Area Theatre.

That Luverne appreciates the value of its historic theatre enough to preserve the building, which hosts a variety of cultural and other events, pleases me. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

Theatre supporters are currently working to continue one aspect of the building’s use, that of showing movies. Through the “Go Digital or Go Dark” campaign, efforts are underway to raise $75,000 for the purchase of a digital projector. At the end of 2013, film companies will no longer produce 35mm film, necessitating the switch.

Now I’m not a big movie watcher, having last viewed an in-theatre movie several years ago. But I like the option of a local theatre, which my community of 23,000 no longer has. Sad. Truly sad.

I expect the good folks of Luverne would miss their movies, too, should funding not come through for the digital projector.

A notable sign draws the eye to the Palace.

A notable sign draws the eye to the Palace.

A special fundraising event, “A Night at the Palace,” slated for Saturday, September 7, will raise monies specifically for that projector. Click here to learn more.

There’s just one more bit of information you should know about the Palace Theatre. Six years ago, on September 6, the Palace Theatre hosted the world premiere of The War, a Ken Burns documentary on World War II. Luverne is one of four communities featured in the film.

Downtown Luverne, Minnesota.

Downtown Luverne, Minnesota.

Of all the venues which could have been selected for the debut showing, the Palace Theatre was chosen. That, my friends, says a lot for the community of Luverne and the historic theatre.

FYI: To learn about another Luverne theatre in need of funding for a digital projector, click here and read about the Verne Drive-in.

If you wish to donate monies (via PayPal) toward purchasing a digital projector for the Palace Theatre, click here.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling