DULUTH, Minn. (AP) — An art deco theater that opened in eastern Minnesota in 1910 as a vaudeville house has been reborn as the anchor of the city's new arts and theater district.

The NorShor Theater in Duluth has hosted the Marx Brothers, Jack Benny and many others, Minnesota Public Radio reported. The theater stopped hosting shows as other venues began opening in the late 1990s.

The city's economic development authority bought the theater in 2010 for $2.3 million. The city then partnered with developer Sherman Associates to reconstruct the building.

The public-private partnership put together a $30.5 million package to fund the project. It featured $7 million in state funding, $15 million in historic preservation and other tax credits, and $2.5 million from the Sherman firm.

The 650-seat art deco theater has been restored with giant murals and a balcony above the stage.

Duluth officials hope the theater will help revitalize the east side of downtown.

"Historic theaters play such an important symbolic role in cities the size of Duluth," said former Mayor Don Ness. "It's a demonstration of a community's commitment to its historic past in downtown, but also a commitment to its future."

Duluth Playhouse will operate and eventually own the facility. The Playhouse plans to use $4.5 million to purchase equipment for the space, such as lighting and sound pieces. The group has raised $1.4 million for the theater, said Christine Seitz, the playhouse's executive and artistic director.

"It's a venue for our entire community to use, and all the local arts groups, and of course the broader vision is to bring in regional and national touring acts as well," Seitz said.


Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org