The Heights Theatre is located in Columbia Heights, Minnesota, a Northeast Minneapolis suburb. The theatre was originally constructed in 1926 by Gluek Brewery heir Arthur Gluek as a prohibition real estate venture.
Built in the Beaux Arts style of the last century, the Heights Theatre building was a simple neighborhood movie house showcasing local talent in stage plays and "High Class Amateur Vaudeville Acts." The Heights has survived at least three fires, one bombing and "The Big Blow of 1949" when a Fridley tornado twisted the tower sign.
Owner Tom Letness specializes in first-run family films, classics, foreign releases, live entertainment and organ concerts Friday and Saturday nights.
Letness and Dave Holmgren bought the Heights Theatre in November 1998, and restored the original glory. At first sight, the interior was a shiny turquoise box. Today, a scarlet motorized grande drape and second-act drape cover the 16 x 26 foot proscenium stage. Gilded grills conceal the pipework for the mighty Wurlitzer Theater Organ. The original blueprints, archived at the University of Minnesota, revealed the ornamental plaster of polychromed woodwork had been walled-up during World War Two.
Antique chandeliers are suspended from the ceiling restored with 2600 Egyptian lead crystals. Hand-painted reproduction Edison Mazda bulbs in four colors on separate circuits allow a multitude of effects from 152 lights above four hundred seats. The orchestra pit, 8-feet X 26-feet, was discovered under the floor where the organ now rises for Friday and Saturday night concerts.
A new screen, Phillips Norelco projectors, projection lamps and lenses in all three formats, 70mm, 35mm and 16mm; a new sound system capable of Dolby SR, Dolby Digital, four- and six- track magnetic and DTS Digital; a multichannel house and stage lighting; a strong follow spotlight, Telex intercom and a public address system with wireless microphones have been added.
The Heights has a grand piano in the lobby and an upright piano in the auditorium connected to the organ. The 1926 Williams Brothers steam boiler was replaced with two new high-efficiency hot water boilers and new electrical service. Front doors, windows, box office and poster cases have been restored to their original recessed location in the front of the building. Handicapped access was added, the men's and ladies' lounges were expanded. The entire lobby and auditorium were recently recarpeted, and a sparkling new tower sign crowns the marquee.