The Orpheum Theater at 315-319 North Phillips Avenue is a two-story 66’X150’ rectangular-shaped building that increases to three stories in height in the rear of the building where the stage is located. The theater incorporates elements of the Prairie style and Neo-Classical Revival in its design. The façade of the building is constructed of a polychromatic; light gray-colored terra cotta block that resembles marble.
The symmetrical façade is articulated into three bays. The central bay contains a recessed entry with two sets of paired doors. The entry is protected by a canopy suspended from the wall. Slightly projected pilasters separate the central bay from the side bays and they extend beyond the top of the parapet. These pilasters contain display cases at street level and some rectangular patterns in green and yellow near their tops. The flanking bays contain small storefronts that are slightly recessed from the façade. These storefronts have recessed entrances, large display windows, and transom windows. Small apartments were once located above the two shops on the second floor. The second story bay has three bays with three one-over-one double hunt ribbon windows that are separated by thin terra cotta mullions in each bay. A vertical mounted wall sign is located above the center bay of the façade and has the word “Orpheum,” molded into it in raised letters. The side bays have straight topped parapets and large, yellow rectangles on them. The side and rear walls are of brick construction and were stuccoed in 1975. Second floor exits are located on the sides of the structure and exit toward the street. A stucco-clad 30’X50’ addition was built near the alley, on the north side of the building, in 1978. The lobby has marble wainscoting and tile floors. Decorative murals accent the ceiling and frieze of the lobby and auditorium. The theater originally had a capacity of 1,000. Subsequent remodeling has reduced that number to 780. The theater has undergone several restorations including one by JJ. Liebenberg, a famous Midwestern theater architect from Minneapolis, in 1927, and a 1975 rehabilitation designed by the Spitznagel Partners of Sioux Falls.
The Orpheum is the oldest existing theater in Sioux Falls. The theater was built for the Solari Bros. in 1913 at a cost of $63,200. The theater opened on Thursday, October 2, 1913, as a vaudeville theater. The October 3, 1913, Sioux Falls Journal heralded the theater by saying, “First and foremost of all, it is absolutely fire-proof, not as to the walls, but the interior furnishings as well, and furnishings excepting as to the upholstery on the seats.” Tickets for the opening night cost $5 each and were sold by local businessmen. Opening night acts included, “An Evening in Honolulu,” featuring vocalists, instrumentalists, and dancers; White’s posing animals; two different comedy acts; and the Orpheum Concert Orchestra. In 1919, the theater was sold to Finklestein and Reuben, a major theater management firm. It is surmised that at the time JJ. Liebenberg, who designed many commissions for Finklestein and Reuben, did work on the building. Tenants of the small shop spaces have included a confectioner, several grocers, some clothiers, and a barber. The Orpheum remained in use as a vaudeville house until 1927 when it was sold to Minnesota Amusement Co., who converted it into a second run and B movie theater. The building slowly declined into disuse until it was purchased by the Sioux Empire Community Playhouse, which restored the theater and used the space until 2002. The City of Sioux Falls purchased the Orpheum, Link, and King of Clubs Building in 2003. The City is restoring the facility to its full use and has named the entire facility The Orpheum Theater Center.
The King of Clubs Building was built in 1949 and is a simple. Moderne-inspired building that measures 44’X150’ in size. The front (east) 59’ of the building is two stories in height, while the rear of the structure is a single story. The building has concrete block side and rear walls, and a tan colored brick veneer façade set in a running bond. Similar to many theater designs, the principal façade of this building has a central entrance leading to a central lobby, and two small shop spaces flanking. The center bay contains a set of double doors flanked by sidelights. The storefront bays contain display windows, with slightly recessed entrances located to the outside of them. The building has three one-over-one single-hung windows equally spaced across the second story. Three slightly projected rowlock string courses span the façade, two between the first and second floors and one just below the parapet. Brick dentil work and a course of stretcher brick coping completes the parapet. The side and rear walls of the building were stuccoed in the 1980s.
Referred to as the King of Clubs Building in an Argus Leader article, this is the last historic building to be constructed in the district. The structure was built with a large open space in the back, for use as a bar/dance club. Upon the building’s completion in 1949, the King of Clubs and the Imperial Liquor Store occupied the street level of the building, and Bob’s Floor Covering leased the second floor. Businesses in the building changed on an almost yearly basis, partly reflecting the declining importance of downtown. The King of Clubs was replaced by another club in 1951, Bob’s Floor Covering was gone by 1952, and Imperial Liquor moved out in 1954. Later tenants of the building included a dressmaker, a sod company, a travel agent, and several other bars, including the Cabana Club from 1955–1962.