Local Group Preserves Terrace Theatre Memories
The grand opening of the Robbinsdale Hy-Vee is, for many, a joyous occasion. A glance at the parking lot certainly indicates the level of excitement.
“Robbinsdale has its own grocery store for the first time in a long time,” said Kristi Gibson, a board member of the Robbinsdale Historical Society.
But for Gibson, Tuesday’s grand opening was also a day of reflection.
“So many people looked forward to this day. And so many people dreaded this day, because it’s kind of like the final outcome,” she said.
For more than 60 years, the back of the Hy-Vee property was the home of the Terrace Theatre.
“I grew up with it. It was my theater, and a big part of our lives growing up, as it was for anybody who went to Robbinsdale High School,” Gibson said.
Gibson happens to be an expert in the venue. She wrote the information found on the Terrace Theatre’s Wikipedia page.
“I did quite a bit of research about the Terrace. I updated Wikipedia with the information on how it came to be and what it was for the community and the architectural importance,” she said.
Moving Past the Demolition
Yet despite the architectural importance, the Terrace met its demise in September of 2016, after it had sat vacant for 17 years.
“When the Terrace did finally start to come down, it was an emotional time for me,” she said.
The emotion came from not only losing a historic structure, but the emotion from losing a hard-fought battle. A group of Terrace Theatre preservationists tried to save the building by circling petitions, protesting the Hy-Vee development, and trying to attract investors.
“We can’t bring back the Terrace at this point, so we’re looking forward,” Gibson said.
Today, some of the letters from the marquee are preserved at the Robbinsdale Historical Society.
“If you are someone who never experienced it prior to , you could come here and see what the building looked like,” she said. “You can see some of the memorabilia that goes with it.”
The hope is that people never forget what was once a premier Twin Cities destination.
And for anyone with harsh feelings from the decision to demolish the building, Gibson says it’s time to move on and embrace the grocery store in its place.
“We wish them all the success,” Gibson said, referring to Hy-Vee. “It’s here now and it will be an important part of our community for many years to come. The Terrace was an important part of our community for 65 years, so this is the next chapter.”
Board members from the Robbinsdale Historical Society say they hope to one-day put a kiosk on site at the new Hy-Vee store where people can learn more about the history of the Terrace Theatre.