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The Movie Theatres of Beresford, South Dakota

The Idle Hour

The earliest known movie theatre in Beresford was the Idle Hour, which operated as early as 1909, with Johnnie B. Maher being one of its proprietors. It was reported to have been quite popular at one time. In early January of 1911, Mr. Maher reacquired the theatre and showed attractive programs in an effort to regain the theatre's earlier popularity. During each show, Mr. Maher presented three film reels of a thousand feet each; but, he did not show the illustrated song parts, which were regarded to be of little interest. In early February of 1911, the Idle Hour presented its last film. The theatre probably would have continued if the room had not been leased to August Rasmussen for the purpose of starting an auto repair shop.

The Jewel Theatre

On May 15, 1911, Johnnie B. Maher opened the first show at his new movie house, which he called the Jewel Theatre. The first night presented Mr. Maher with technical glitches; but, Mr. Maher was more annoyed by these than the audience was. Two shows were presented at 8 and 9 o'clock each evening. The new theatre attracted good-sized crowds despite a less than ideal location, which made it difficult to assemble the crowds by the call of the phonograph.

A man named Mr. Brennan took over the operation of the Jewel Theatre. When it was closed for repairs in October 1911, it was moved from its old location to the opera house. The opera house was used for showing motion pictures whenever the meeting place was not being used for other purposes. In November of 1911, the management of the theatre secured the films of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show; and, admission for those shows was fifteen and twenty-five cents.

The Empress

From 1921 until 1940, Mr. E. W. Kundert and Mrs. M. B. Ryan formed one of Beresford's oldest business partnerships when they owned and operated the Empress movie theatre for about nineteen years.

On January 16, 1923, Mr. Kundert and Mrs. Ryan went on trial as a result of operating their movie theatre on Sunday evenings in violation of the Beresford city ordinance.

During the summer of 1940, E. D. Nash of Canton, SD purchased the Empress from Mrs. M. B. Ryan and E. W. Kundert. At the time of the purchase, Mr. Nash also owned two theatres in Canton, SD and was the former owner of a theatre in Clark, SD. Mr. Nash was an experienced theatre man and had once been a representative of Paramount Pictures. Mrs. Ryan retained ownership of the building; but, Mr. Nash purchased all of the theatre's equipment. After the showing of "Till We Meet Again," Mr. Nash closed the theatre for a number of weeks to rebuild the interior and to install new equipment. When it was reopened, it had a new name, the Vogue.

The Vogue

During the summer of 1940, the community was surprised to learn that the old Empress theatre had been sold by the partnership of Mrs. M. B. Ryan and E. W. Kundert to Mr. E. D. Nash of Canton, SD. Mr. Nash and Mr. Sorensen became the new co-owners of the theatre; and for a number of weeks, the two closed the theatre to completely renovate and refurnish the entire building, and to install the latest projection and sound equipment of the time. Also, the floor was sloped to allow four inches of vision over the person in front. The theatre was renamed the Vogue; and, it opened for the first time on August 31, 1940 with the film, "The Boys From Syracuse."

On April 10-12 of 1947, the Vogue gave Beresford movie-goers a thrill when it showed a Zane Grey picture called "Code of the West." The film was of special interest to Beresford residents; because, it featured an actress named Debra Alden, whose real name was Shirley Fedderson. She was the daughter of a former Beresford resident named Tony Fedderson, who had once operated a clothing store at the site where the Vogue Theatre was later located. Tony eventually moved to Kansas City where Shirley was born. "Code of the West" marked Shirley Fedderson's screen debut.

In February of 1950, Axel Sorensen spent two weeks installing 3-D equipment to show a 3-D film on February 25-27 of 1950. Special permanent optician's glasses were used to view the movie; and after the show, the glasses were sterilized for use by patrons during the next show.

After the theatre was permanently closed, it stood unused for a number of years. In 1988, Union County hired D. Christensen to tear down the old movie theatre. He started in December 1988, doing all of the work by hand. And, he finished the work by probably the end of February 1989.