Soo Theatre - Sault Ste. Marie MI

Address: 534 Ashmun St
City: Sault Ste. Marie
State: MI
Zip: 49783
County: Chippewa
Open: 1929
Capacity: 750
Owner History:
Theater Type: Neighborhood House
Number of visits to this page: 7361

Please note that location entries may feature older photos or post card views that may not represent the current appearance, features, addresses, phone numbers, or contact names of the attraction. This site is intended to be a historical as well as current record of various attractions but it is not always possible to have up-to-date information due to the vast number of locations featured here. We ask you consult the propietor for current information.

General Information:

Built in 1929 to vaudeville house plans with full stage, flyspace, dressing rooms beneath stage, twin organ lofts (organ never installed), and orchestra pit, the Soo is the only remaining vintage house in the eastern end of Upper Michigan and the only venue in the area that offers the flyspace needed for full scenic productions. [Cinema Treasures]

As of 2021, the Downtown Development Authority has pledged 650k toward a complete facelift of the theatre.

Info Updates:
6/5/2006 - John Ignatowski
Much has happened since our last posting regarding the Soo Theatre. The recipient of a 2005 Michigan Cool Cities grant, Soo Theatre Project remodeled the facilitys ground-floor former retail spaces into Soo Theatre Arts Resource Studios (STARS), a community center for professional instruction in the performing and visual arts. We opened in September with 72 students and as of spring 2006 we have over 200 students registered. In summer of 2005 the Wall that was constructed in the 1970s to turn the Soo Theatre into a duplex was demolished entirely by volunteer labour, and the Red and Blue auditoria were reunited into a single theatre. To ceiebrate, Soo Theatre Project and Sault Community Theatre combined forces to produce a play and variety show on the newly revealed stage, the first live performances in this venue in over 30 years. There were two performances, on August 5 and 7, 2005, which coincided with the Sesquicentennial observance of the opening of the Soo Locks in 1855. While the the lack of an operable heating system shut down the auditorium during winter of 2005/06, we used this time to inaugurate, grow and promote our STARS program, which not only helps Soo Theatre Project pay its bills but directly involves the community of eastern Upper Michigan in the rehabilitation of this beloved venue and the building of the future audiences and performing groups who will use it. The summer of 2006 will see three fundraising performances in the auditorium before the cold weather again sets in. In the meantime, we continue to pursue grant funding for the major task of renovatiing the Soo Theatre into a state-of-the-art performance venue.
8/9/2005 - Pat Weaver
I was in this theatre in 1975 (it had been twinned by then) but I remember thinking it very strongly resembled the Ionia Theatre in layout. The Ionia, also a Butterfield house, also opened in 1930. Same architect, maybe?
9/11/2004 - Dianna George
In 2002 a non-profit group was formed to purchase the old Soo Theatre in Sault Mi. The purchase date was March, 03. We recently recieved one of Gov. Grandholms "Cool Cities" grants ($100,000.) and are in the process of renovating the theatre, 4 retail spots and 8 apartments. The grant will allow us to work on the retail fronts to open a performing arts school. The theatre had been closed for 5 years and is in desperate need ofrestoration. We are and have been raising funds for this. We are a long way from our goal, but have gained much momentem. Our house originally seated 1196. We have a full sized stage, orchestra pit, fly space, dressing rooms etc. The 1930 theatre was a Butterfield and was designed with live theatre and flim in mind. In 1974 the theatre was divided into 2 screens by an emormous concrete block wall. The lobby was also modernized to include tacky wallcoverings and lowered ceilings. The immediate goals are to upgrade electrical, plumbing and heatings systems. The roof is no longer leaking, but the damage left from years of neglect will take a while to repair. We are determined to see this wonderful landmark brought back to where she should be. One of our board members upon hearing the comment, "the curtain cant go up until the wall comes down", wrote a great song depicting our plight with tons of humour. We look forward to hearing from you and sharing with other groups who are in a simular boat or who have completed their own project. I actually was searching theatres in Monroe Michigan when I came upon this site. I was told that my grandfather owned 3 theatres just prior to the Depression. His name was Jim George. I would love to know if anyone knows anything about him and which theatres he was involved in. I dont have much family left and certainly none that can answer my questions. Thank you for all your good work, please keep it up. Dianna George, Pres. Soo Theatre Project, Inc.
6/6/2004 - Soo Evening News
06/03/04 Ready for revitalization By SCOTT BRAND/The Evening News SAULT STE. MARIE -- With Governor Jennifer Granholms announcement of funding for 20 Cool Cities pilot projects on Wednesday, the City of Sault Ste. Marie learned it has qualified for $100,000 in cold, hard cash. The money has been earmarked for renovation and revitalization of the Soo Theatre. "The communities that won were the ones that maximized the attributes we spelled out," said Director David Hollister of the Department of Labor and Economic Growth in a telephone interview Wednesday regarding the long odds faced as 112 cities applied for 151 various grants. "The Sault had a great proposal." Hollister expressed the belief that renovation of this historical building will stimulate other development in Sault Ste. Marie. Director Lee Shirey of the Downtown Development Authority said he was very pleased with the governors announcement. The $100,000 catalyst grant will not only provide immediate help for the theatre, but will allow the Sault to tap into a much larger pool of money for similar projects throughout the state. "This now opens the door to $100 million in funding for cool cities," said Shirey. The initial $100,000, according to the governors announcement, will go toward updatating and renovating the classic and historic Soo Theatre Complex to its original grandeur of the 1930s. Shirey explained that will basically involve improvements on the retail fronts, heating, plumbing and electrical upgrades and the development of barrier-free restrooms. Shirey envisioned the theatre becoming an arts and cultural complex catering to dance, arts and music training. "Thats great," said Mayor Anthony Bosbous in a happenstance meeting early this morning. "Its a good start." "Building vibrant, energetic cities is essential to attracting jobs, people and opportunity to our state," said Granholm. "If Michigan is to be competitive in the 21st century economy, we have to attract new businesses and retain the highly educated, talented young people who are crucial to building and sustaining businesses in todays global marketplace. Im thrilled about the potential of these projects and the positive impact they will have on their communities and the economic vitality of our state." Sault Ste. Marie was one of only two Upper Peninsula cities to receive funds under this grant. Marquette received similar funding for a commons project designed to bring a refrigerated ice plaza, skating rink, warming house, non-motorized trail and fountain into its community. Other grant recipients include Alpena, Bay City, Detroit, Ferndale, Flint, Grand Rapids, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Port Huron, Portland, Saginaw, Saugatuck, Traverse City, Warren and Ypsilanti.
3/10/2004 - John Ignatowski
Soo Theatre Project, Inc. has begun the massive task of undertaking renovation of the Soo Theatre as a community performing arts center. Plans for use of the vintage downtown movie house include concerts, classic and silent films and film festivals, drama, musical theatre and operetta. A key element of the plan is the installation of a theatre pipe organ to replace the original, removed many years ago. Photos and more information are available on the website
6/2/2003 - WaterWinterWonderland
This quaint little downtown theatre is available for rental and re-opening as a theatre.
Soo Theatre - Recent Pic
Recent Pic
Soo Theatre - Recent Pic
Recent Pic
Soo Theatre - Recent Pic
Recent Pic
Soo Theatre - Vintage High School Yearbook Ad
Vintage High School Yearbook Ad
Soo Theatre - 1954 Ad From Paul
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