Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Press Release
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Lower family celebrates 100 years of movies

Strand Theatre 1919 to 1937, Lake Theatre 1937 to 2019


Provided Photo

Walter Lower II stands in front of Lake Theatre.

One hundred years ago, H. K. Lower opened the Strand Theatre on July 4, 1919 where the 4th Street Apartments are now located. It was built eight months after the 1918 fire on the ruins of his auto & livery stable. It featured current films, plays, and dances. Until 1928, the movies were silent with subtitles. To entertain the crowds Martin Pearson played the violin and his wife Mamie played the piano. This same player piano is still working its magic and playing its tune before the shows.

By the mid-thirties it was obvious that a larger up to date theatre was needed. In 1936 architect Perry Crusier was hired by Mrs. H. K. Lower (Katherine) and Mr. & Mrs. Walter Lower (Edith), and the new Elm Street building was completed in 1937 by Sandahl Construction opening on Good Friday March 26, 1937. Renamed Lake Theatre, it opened with "Love is News" and tickets cost 10 to 15 cents. People flocked from all over the area to watch the latest features, cartoons, and news reels. The equipment and furnishings were of the latest fashion with seating for 450 and a cry room upstairs for newborns. It had a large neon marquee which lit up the night sky for miles around. The marquee was hard to maintain, and was later struck by a truck in 1950 and heavily damaged.

In 1952, another architect was hired and a new entrance and marquee were added along with the bathrooms being moved upstairs. This is the theatre you see today with a new digital 2D projector, surround sound and newer seating for 312.

Five generations of the Lower family have worked at the theatre and it is the longest running single theatre in the state going back to a different time and era. Unfortunately, very few historical theatres have survived. The movie business has taken on many challengers with new technologies over the years. The first being radio then black and white T.V., color T.V., VCRs, cable, satellite, DVDs, Netflix, smart phones, and more. Try as they might, they can't beat the nostalgia, atmosphere, and feeling of bringing the family or a date to the big screen, and you simply cannot beat piping hot, fresh theatre popcorn with real butter.

Over the last century the theatre has provided projectionists and hundreds of area youth with jobs and skills. It's been an absolute pleasure working with all and serving this great community that we call home. Hopefully we will be able to continue to provide family entertainment and memories for generations to come. The show must go on!

In celebration and gratitude to the community, the Lake Theatre would like to invite one and all to a free digital showing of Steven Spielberg's classic E.T. "The Extra-Terrestrial" playing July 4th at 1 pm.

The regular showing of Toy Story 4 will be playing through July 11th. For further information visit


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