I go by the Palace Theatre every time I walk down Selkirk Avenue to do my volunteer work at a thrift shop. The theatre building is all boarded up but it looks like it was a grand building once and I wanted to know more about it.
I found out the Palace was designed by Max Zev Blankstein a Jewish architect trained in Odessa, Russia who emigrated to Canada in 1904. He drew up plans for a number of Winnipeg theatres. The theatre was built by Jacob Miles whose family would become one of the biggest movie theatre operators in Manitoba.
There are detailed designs in the brick work
The Palace opened in 1912 and was initially a venue for vaudeville performances. According to Russ Gourluck the author of Silver Screens on the Prairie it was also used for meetings of the Ukrainian community as well as the viewing of motion pictures.
The Palace Theatre in 1930- photo by Jim Fustey from Silver Screens on the Prairie by Russ Gourluck
An addition was built in 1927 adding a balcony and increasing the capacity of the theatre to 800.
Michael Koster in the Palace Theatre -photo by Raymond Koster- from Silver Screens on the Prairie by Russ Gourluck
Michael Koster worked in the projection room and it was sometimes so hot in the room that he wore only underwear, socks and shoes.
Jack Baturin a North End resident recalls kids attended Saturday shows that began at 10:00 am and many kids sat twice through the cowboy movies, mysteries, serials and cartoons bringing lunches that consisted of chunks of bread and kubasa sausage from home. The Green Hornet was a favorite serial.
The theatre was a haunt of the Dew Drop gang who liked to run a variety of scams to avoid paying for their movie tickets.
The Palace Theatre closed in 1964 and was in turn an auction house, furniture warehouse and bargain store. Now it stands empty- a reminder of a time when the North End of Winnipeg was a very different place.
Other posts about the North End………
I’m a Shop Girl and I Love It
Ancient Objects- Seven Oaks Museum