Thank you for your interest in the NorShor Theatre restoration!

On the evening of April 11, 2016, the city council passed approval on the plans to restore the historic NorShor Theatre with an 8-1 vote. It’s really happening!

There’s still a bit of work to be had, and once construction begins, we’re off to that opening date. We’ll do our best to keep you up-to-date, and be sure to visit our ‘In The News‘ page for the latest and greatest.

As the project progresses, we’ll post as many updates as we can. We encourage you to use the sign-up link at the top of this page to receive updates as they happen, and to tune in to both our Duluth Playhouse and NorShor Theatre Facebook pages.

There are so many people to thank for getting us to this day. It’s thrilling and exciting that it’s finally here. As mayor Emily Larson said last night at the council meeting that approved the plans, “Together, we get to be a part of something transformational.”

In the meantime, here you’ll find answers to some frequently asked questions.


What is the origin of the NorShor Theatre restoration project?


In 2010 the Duluth Economic Development Authority (DEDA) purchased the historic NorShor Theatre and surrounding real estate. The intent was to return the NorShor to life as a vibrant cultural center — serving the needs of the arts, dance, theatre and musical organizations from across the region.

In 2012, DEDA selected developer Sherman Associates and the Duluth Playhouse, as a part of an RFP asking them to join forces to oversee the transformation of the theater, and future management of the facility. Each bringing expertise in their respective fields, this powerful partnership crafted a compelling vision and plan for the project. Together they will direct the rehabilitation of the NorShor Theatre, the Temple Opera House and the Annex Buildings, creating a state-of-the-art, 700-seat facility in the heart of Duluth.

NorShorTowerWhy is this project important?

•  A stabilized, restored NorShor Theatre and its surrounding buildings will bring vital economic growth and development to the city’s center.

•  It will provide a much-needed mid-sized venue that will offer a state-of-the-art facility for national, regional, and local, performers.

•  A vibrant cultural community creates an enhanced quality of life for residents, strengthens the city and our surrounding region.

•  The NorShor will be one more reason tourists will consider Duluth a destination of choice.

•  As a landmark in downtown Duluth, the NorShor Theatre played a significant role in our city’s history, and in the lives of so many of our residents.  Restoring it to its grandeur as a center for arts and entertainment will bring a wide variety of new performances from local, regional, and national performers, and the opportunity for new experiences and memories for generations to come.

NorShor_MilkbarWhat is the extent of the 
work being done on the theatre? 

The extensive restoration will include:

•  Bringing the building into ADA compliance, making it fully accessible.

•  Executive Suites that can be used as semi-private entertainment areas.

•  An extended stage and orchestra pit.

•  Refurbished seating throughout.

NorShorMezzanineMural•  State-of-the-art acoustics.

•  A pre-show reception and lounge area, ideal for public gatherings and private parties and events.

•  A new bar and lounge highlighting the legendary 1940’s Milk Bar

Who is Sherman Associates?
Sherman Associates is an award-winning firm specializing in design, construction, and financing quality commercial and housing properties. Given their expertise, the firm is uniquely qualified to steer the redevelopment of the NorShor.

Sherman Associates has been actively engaged in Duluth for 25 years. With the purchase and renovation of the landmark Greysolon Plaza, development of the Sheraton Duluth, and 311 Superior Condominiums, the company is committed helping advance a prosperous and vibrant city center.

> More information at

> See Duluth News Tribune article featuring George Sherman’s presentation at a recent Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce meeting.

How much will this project cost?
The cost for the NorShor restoration is a complicated $30.5 million deal involving multiple partners, including developed George Sherman, the Duluth Playhouse, and the Duluth Economic Development Authority, as well as federal and state tax credits and additional state funding. The majority of funding will be secured through a financing structure that includes public and private funds, and federal tax credits financing. This strategy has proven successful in similar projects statewide and nationally. In support of the overall fundraising goal, a steering committee was formed and is in the process of securing $2 million in private gifts.

When will work begin?
Once all agreements have been reviewed and signed off on, construction is expected to start May 2016.

Who can I contact about making a financial contribution to the project?
If you’re interested in making a tax-deductible contribution to the project, make checks payable to the NorShor Theatre and mail them to the Duluth Playhouse, 506 West Michigan Street, Duluth, Minnesota 55802. You will receive written notification of your contribution that is tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

If you’d like to meet with a representative from the NorShor Theatre Project Committee to discuss your contribution, please contact Christine Seitz at

Historic images courtesy

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