Originally owned by prominent businessmen T. F. Powers and Peter Elliott, the Fargo Theatre is one of the most recognizable downtown buildings. The facade of this classically inspired two-story concrete and masonry commercial block consists of red brick above a limestone base, with repetitive semicircular arched windows. Between the arches, stone-faced grotesque faces open their mouths to accept the hanger rods of the marquee. These are topped with stone consoles that visually support the cornice. The marquee and the thirty-six-foot-high vertical sign are illuminated with the theater’s name, fargo. Liebenburg and Kaplan, movie theater designers from Minneapolis, remodeled the building, giving the interior a sleek streamlined appearance in the popular Art Deco. The marquee is from the 1926 design and the iconic lighted vertical sign is a feature of the 1937 remodeling. The entrance lobby opens to a mezzanine level, richly adorned with colored mirrors, large crystal chandeliers, and art panels. The auditorium and its balcony, which accommodate 1,300 people, feature a composition of planar surfaces superimposed upon each other, sinuous curves in the ceiling, and horizontal coursings of neon lights on the side walls. Characterized by historian Norene Roberts as a “masterpiece of Art Deco Style,” the Fargo Theatre and its marquee form the image most associated with the community, particularly with its portrayal in the movie Fargo (1996).
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