The reopening of downtown Rochester’s historic Chateau Theatre marks a major milestone for Destination Medical Center (DMC). This moment is not only a new beginning for the historic building, but it’s also the culmination of many years of hard work to bring the theatre back to its original glory.
The City of Rochester’s purchase of the theatre in 2015, utilizing DMC funding, along with a contribution from Mayo Clinic, kicked off a long process involving many key players to get the building ready to reopen. The Chateau Reuse Task Force, comprised of 12 city leaders, arts and history experts and community members got to work right away to plan the theatre’s restoration and long-term reuse. Minneapolis consulting firm Miller Dunwiddie Architecture helped plan the renovations along with the guidance of the Rochester Heritage Preservation Commission to ensure the building retained its historic value. In 2018, an additional $1.1 million in DMC funding went toward renovations to the space.
In late 2018, the city published a request for proposals for the operation and management of the space. A months-long selection process ultimately led to a contract with Exhibits Development Group (EDG) from Saint Paul to bring internationally touring arts and culture exhibits to the theater.
“Engaging with the public at every step of the process was vital to the success of this project,” said Patrick Seeb, DMC Economic Development Agency (EDA) director of economic development and placemaking. “The Chateau is a beloved and iconic landmark, and it seems like everyone who has lived in Rochester has a story about their time in the building.”
Later in the process, as EDG moved into its role as manager and operator of the theatre, it welcomed the public into the space to view the completed renovations at an open house over the summer of 2019. It’s also working with local and regional artists to showcase their talents alongside the internationally touring exhibits.
Now, as the theatre prepares to open, the significance of this moment is not lost in the excitement.
“The work of countless individuals, organizations and businesses helped us get to this point today, where the Chateau is once again serving as a home for arts and culture in Southeast Minnesota.” said Lisa Clarke, DMC Economic Development Agency executive director. “The theatre’s reopening adds more entertainment and educational options for community members, visitors and patients in the heart of a growing, vibrant, downtown Rochester.”
The Chateau is a cornerstone of DMC’s plans for the Heart of the City sub-district, where more exciting changes are underway, such as Ryan Companies’ renovation of the Wells Fargo Building. Other improvements are still to come, including construction this spring to enhance First Avenue and Peace Plaza, .
The Chateau Theatre’s rebirth as a home for cultural education is another step toward DMC’s mission to foster a thriving arts district in downtown Rochester. The city is home to many cultural centers, representing music, theater, visual arts, and more. The Chateau adds to the mix, making Rochester an even more enriching place to live, work, and play.