100 year old Fitzgerald Theater makes National Register


The beginnings of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s mural on the side of the theater that bears his name.

MPR Photo/Tom Campbell

Well, we all knew it was a historic building, at least to those of us here at MPR, but it sure is nice to get the official seal of approval.

In August, MPR’s President Bill Kling got the final work from the Minnesota Historical Society saying that the “Sam S. Shubert Theatre and Shubert Building” had been entered in the National Register of Historic Places.

The theater, which opened in August of 1910, has changed names and hands a few times. For a while it was a movie house, and in 1933 was renamed The World Theater. In 1981, Garrison Keillor brought his radio program, “A Prairie Home Companion,” to the World. It was Keillor who led the charge to rename the theater in honor of St. Paul native F. Scott Fitzgerald.

In honor of the theater’s 100th birthday, and its historic status, the folks who run events here at MPR have planned a few special activities in addition to the usual cultural offerings at the Fitz.

This Saturday, Patricia Hampl debuts a new work – commissioned by MPR – called “The Big Time.” The evening’s performance will be introduced by Eleanor Lanahan, Fitzgerald’s granddaughter, and the show will include a special musical performance by Blake Hazard, Fitzgerald’s great-granddaughter. After the show, the audience will be invited to lift a glass to the kick-off of the theater’s Centennial Season and witness the unveiling of our new plaque acknowledging our placement of The National Register of Historic Places.

Also, a mural of F. Scott Fitzgerald is right now underway on the side of the theater. The image is inspired by a photo of Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda, taken at the White Bear Yacht Club in 1921.