About The Theatre
We believe that performing arts can engage, stimulate, inspire, challenge, educate, reflect,empower and nourish artists, audiences and communities. We are committed to the cultural enrichment of Saint Paul’s ethnically and economically diverse East Side neighborhoods. We will work as a catalyst and magnet for arts and culture by developing new programs and partnerships, which create opportunities for youth, adults and professionals to actively participate in drama, music, dance, cinema, multimedia and other arts and cultural activities. We will strive to increase participation in the arts for all, through inspiring and accessible dramatic, musical, dance, cinematic and other arts and cultural performances at the Mounds Theatre facility and by offering facilities and programming support to artists and performers.
The Mounds Theatre was originally built in 1922 as a venue for silent movies and live entertainment. It was renovated around 1933 and 1950 before closing in July 1967, and used as a warehouse until December 2001.
In 2001, the theatre was donated to the Portage for Youth by George Hardenbergh to address unmet needs of youth and families on St. Paul’s East Side. Portage director Raeann Ruth led the renovation project and, with the help of a STAR grant through the City of St. Paul and a donation from an anonymous donor, the Mounds Theatre became the art deco landmark it is today.
The Renovation Project
The Mounds Theatre renovation was a project led by Raeann Ruth and her nonprofit organization, the Portage for Youth. Together they refurbished the old Mounds Theatre building and transformed it into a new grassroots theatre and community center for St. Paul’s Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood. Now completed, the theatre is used for plays and other types of live entertainment, movies, concerts, weddings and receptions, educational activities, and neighborhood gatherings. Work began on the building in late 2001 and was finished in October 2003. General Contractor: Raddatz and Sons Construction, Arden Hills, MN
The renovation project addressed the needs of the Dayton’s Bluff area at several levels:
- As the home base for several arts and culture organizations, it creates a new “service center” in a strategically located, under-served section of the East Side
- As a grassroots meeting and activity center, it serves as a magnet
for community-building events.
- As a performing arts center, the theatre provides a venue for public expression
and celebration of the Dayton’s Bluff area’s unique and diverse cultures.
- Refurbishing the property reduced the number of boarded-up buildings
and blight in an underutilized, formerly thriving commercial area.
- Revamping the property created employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for area residents including the extended families of youth served by The Portage.
Events leading to the development of this project:
- George Hardenbergh, the owner of the Mounds Theatre building, indicated his intent to donate the property to The Portage for Youth if it would be renovated into a facility to address the unmet needs of youth and families on St. Paul’s East Side.
- The Portage obtained bids to determine the cost of renovating the 1920s movie theatre into a community and performing arts center.
- A STAR grant through the City of St. Paul was secured and a sizeable donation
from an anonymous donor toward renovation costs was pledged.
- Potential nonprofit tenants and partners were involved in the planning
of the new facility.
- Ongoing operation of the completed facility was also considered. Several tenants expressed interest in leasing space on a permanent or occasional basis.
2015 brought another change to the theatre, with Raeann Ruth passing the baton to the Mounds new Executive Director, Jessica Johnson.
Jessica is an East Sider with a passion for her community and has been focused on keeping the theatre lit up with events that bring both those in the community and other Twin Citians to the Historic Mounds Theatre.
Stop on in to see the ongoing updates and get in touch with us about booking your event at the Historic Mounds Theatre.