Cooper Theatre

November 19, 1894, C.T. and Mary Whidden purchased the lot where the theater is now located.  Later, they erected a building which housed the Whidden Clothing Store.  In December of 1912, P.K. Moe and Knut Bolstad purchased the store and remodeled it into a theater.  Both live productions and movies were shown.  There was an orchestra pit in front of the stage which is still there.

There was a Wurlitzer player piano which was used during showing of silent movies.  The first talking picture was shown May 22, 1930, and prices went up to 50¢ and 25¢.  The Vitaphone system was the first kind installed, which was sound on record synchronized with the film.  Some time in the mid-thirties the sound on film was put in.  Different projectors and sound systems have been installed in later years.

The establishment went by the name of the Strand Theatre until 1972.  In May of 1920, the Theatre Corporation of Cooperstown was formed.  Through the years, several people were involved in the corporation, including Cliff and Edith Tang, who in 1946 acquired all of the shares.  The Tangs continued to operate the theater until shortly before Cliff€™s death in 1967.

Bob and Jovone' Mack operated the theater for a short period of time during 1969 and 1970.

In December of 1972, the Industrial Development committee obtained the building in behalf of the non-profit Cooper Theatre, Inc. Original members of the corporation were: Roger Bakken, Francis Dalbec, Dennis Fossum, Bert Hoffman, Kenny Hagen and Dennis Paintner.  The Cooper Theatre is presently operated by the Howard Brash, James Bender, Dennis Fossum, Kenny Hagen, Rick Larson, Roger Nelson, and Gil Fletschock and Dennis Paintner families.

The Louie Stetz family and Garfield Rasmussen family were involved in the theater for a time.

In 1981, Stones' Cafe next door was torn down and the west side of the theater had new siding put on.  Bathrooms were also installed at that time.

The theater is still operating on a non-profit and volunteer basis.

Source: Cooperstown, North Dakota 1882-1982 Centennial Page 209

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