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Riverview Theater

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Riverview Theater
Riverview Theater night, July 2011.jpg
The Riverview's lit marquee in 2011
Address3800 42nd Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55406[1]
Coordinates44°56′03″N 93°12′47″W / 44.934051°N 93.21316°W / 44.934051; -93.21316Coordinates: 44°56′03″N 93°12′47″W / 44.934051°N 93.21316°W / 44.934051; -93.21316[2]
TypeIndoor movie theater
Seating typeStadium
OpenedDecember 30, 1948 (1948-12-30)
ArchitectLiebenberg and Kaplan

The Riverview Theater is a cinema in the Howe neighborhood of Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States. Designed by Liebenberg and Kaplan, the theater was built by theater owners Bill and Sidney Volk in 1948. After building a subsequent theater in a new ultramodern style, the Volks returned to the Riverview in 1956 and had its lobby area heavily renovated and updated. The Riverview remains one of several surviving single-screen cinemas in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul area and typically shows second-run films for $2 or $3, as well as other special programming. Since the early 2000s, it has been consistently recognized by City Pages as one of the best movie theaters in the area.


The Lithuania-born Volk brothers, Bill and Sidney, came to Minnesota in the early 1920s and got involved in the movie business by purchasing neighborhood theaters during the Great Depression. In 1946, the Volks initiated what the publication Greater Amusements called a "theater-building orgy" when they received a permit from the Minneapolis City Council to build the first new theater in Minneapolis in twelve years in spite of the protests of other theater managers.[3] The Riverview was designed by architectural firm Liebenberg and Kaplan and built in 1948[1] in the Streamline Moderne style.[4] It opened December 30, 1948, with a showing of June Bride.[4] The single-screen theater utilized stadium seating, making it one of the earlier movie theaters to do so.[5][6]

In a lit room, dark square panels line the pinkish wall in rows, while green seats fill the space; a gray screen is visible to the front.
The interior of the Riverview's auditorium in 2008

Three years later, the Volks again called on Liebenberg and Kaplan to construct the Terrace Theater in Robbinsdale, Minnesota, "one of the first ultramodern theaters in America",[7] and considered by author Larry Millett to be "their masterpiece".[5] Pleased with the results (and the industry-bucking receipts), the Volks turned back to the Riverview and had Liebenberg and Kaplan remodel it to reflect the successful Terrace model.[8] This occurred in 1956, eight years after the theater's initial construction.[1] The new lobby space was intended to reflect a living room and even included a separate TV lounge.[6] Amenities were ample: "Dunbar tables, McCobb stools, Herman Miller divans and chairs, walnut panels imposed on light wood, graceful modern lamps, stunning draperies."[8] Inside the theater space, however, little changed about the proscenium stage and seating.[6]

The Riverview became one of the few remaining single-screen theaters in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul area; by the end of the 1980s, it was one of only six left,[9] and after 1998, it was one of only four left, with the Uptown and Parkway Theaters and the Oak Street Cinema,[a][11] although since 1998, several new single-screen theaters–the Trylon Microcinema and the Heights Theater–have opened.[12][13] The owners installed new seats in 1999 that allowed for greater leg room and more space between patrons.[4]

Contemporary status[edit]

A bike sits parked before an indoor snack bar illuminated with blue neon lights.
The Riverview's lobby, largely unchanged since 1956

The Riverview is located in Minneapolis's Howe neighborhood and seats over 700 patrons.[4] It typically shows second-run films for between $2–3 per ticket and its concessions are also "much cheaper than at the suburban multiplexes".[14] Sometimes, other events are shown, including midnight movies,[15] sporting events,[16] film festivals,[17][18] and political events such as Barack Obama's first inauguration in 2009.[19] Take Up Productions, operator of the nearby 100-seat Trylon Cinema, sometimes uses the Riverview for screenings too large for the Trylon to accommodate.[20] The theater won City Pages' Best Budget Movie Theater award in 2000, 2004, and 2005, and the Best Movie Theater award every year from 2006 to 2014 except 2011 and 2012.[21] The Riverview's lobby remains largely unchanged from its 1956 renovation.[15]


  1. ^ The Oak Street Cinema was demolished in 2011.[10]


  1. ^ a b c Millett 2007, p. 160.
  2. ^ Google (June 26, 2014). "3800 42nd Ave S Minneapolis, MN 55406" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved June 26, 2014.
  3. ^ Kenney 2007, p. 119.
  4. ^ a b c d "Riverview Theater". Cinema Treasures. Cinema Treasures, LLC. Retrieved June 27, 2014.
  5. ^ a b Millett 2007, p. 161.
  6. ^ a b c Kenney 2007, p. 121.
  7. ^ Kenney 2007, pp. 119–120.
  8. ^ a b Kenney 2007, p. 120.
  9. ^ Kenney 2007, pp. 189–190.
  10. ^ Regan, Sheila (March 4, 2011). "Oak Street Cinema destruction approved by unanimous vote of the Heritage Preservation Commission". Twin Cities Daily Planet. Retrieved July 17, 2016.
  11. ^ Kenney 2007, pp. 209–210.
  12. ^ Nelson, Rob (July 10, 2009). "Screen of Dreams: Trylon microcinema set to open on Minnehaha". MinnPost. Archived from the original on January 3, 2016. Retrieved December 25, 2015.
  13. ^ Strickler, Jeff (May 25, 2002). "Owners of Heights Theater taking control of Apache 6". Star Tribune. Archived from the original on September 11, 2016. Retrieved July 17, 2016 – via HighBeam Research.
  14. ^ Berger 2008, pp. 117–118.
  15. ^ a b Berger 2008, p. 118.
  16. ^ Sinker, Howard (May 9, 2003). "Game 7; Wild at Canucks". Star Tribune. ProQuest 427560444. – via ProQuest (subscription required)
  17. ^ Armbruster, Jessica (March 6, 2013). "Z-Fest Film Festival". City Pages. Archived from the original on July 29, 2014. Retrieved June 27, 2014.
  18. ^ Wolf, Erika (June 7, 2012). "48 Hour Film Project movie-making competition comes to Minneapolis this weekend". City Pages. Archived from the original on June 26, 2014. Retrieved June 27, 2014.
  19. ^ Tundel, Nikki (January 20, 2009). "Hundreds gather in Mpls to watch inauguration". Minnesota Public Radio News. Associated Press. Retrieved June 27, 2014.
  20. ^ Loomis, Adam (October 27, 2014). "Trylon Microcinema Offers Two Unusual Halloween Frights This Week". City Pages. Archived from the original on September 28, 2020. Retrieved January 2, 2016.
  21. ^ "Riverview Theater". City Pages. Archived from the original on July 5, 2014. Retrieved June 27, 2014.


External links[edit]