Built in 1936, the Ely State Theater was a treasure for the small northern Minnesota town of Ely, MN. Its Streamline Moderne style was designed by Liebenberg and Kaplan—the leading movie theater designers in the Upper Midwest during the Golden Age of Hollywood. As a notable establishment for the city, it was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 2015. Unfortunately, over time, the theater fell into disrepair and needed renovating. The theater owners looked to bring it back to its original atmosphere—while also implementing a live performance space into the venue.

Farber was called upon to provide their expertise on bringing the technology and theatrical elements into the modern day. Collaborating with Alley A Realty group, we started planning.

With any registered historical place, specific renovation guidelines must be followed. Our Design/Engineering team worked closely with the Historical Society to ensure we approached everything appropriately. That started by creating the overall scope of the project.

To complete this project successfully, we created a multi-phase approach to accommodate overall project budgets and a future vision and functionality for the theater. In the end, Farber and its partners were able to create a stunning, future-proof theater space that was equally innovative, impressive and perfect for the Ely community.

  • Conceptual Design & Budgeting
  • Stage Design & Layout
  • Extending Stage (Thrust)
  • Drawings & Renderings (approval to the US Dept. of Interior/National Register of Historic Places)
  • Curtains/Softgoods Design & Installation
  • Lighting Design & Installation
  • Acoustical Design
  • Sound System Design & Installation
  • Automation/Control Design & Installation
  • Coordination with Cinema Theater Design/Installation Team
  • Project Management, Training & Technical Support
  • Remote Monitoring & Access


Our Involvement

  • Conceptual Design and Budgeting for client approval
  • Stage Design and Layout
  • Extending Stage (Thrust) to support Live Entertainment and/or other Theatrical Events
  • Drawings/Renderings for approval to the US Department of Interior/National Register of Historic Places
  • Curtains/Softgoods Design and Installation
  • Theatrical Lighting Design and Installation
  • Architectural Lighting Design and Installation
  • Wall Sconce—special lighting Design and Installation
  • Acoustical Design for Cinema and Live Performance
  • Sound System Design and Installation for Cinema and Live Performance
  • Automation (Audio/Video/Lighting/Cinema) Control Design and Installation
  • Coordination with Cinema Theater design/installation team
  • Project Management, Training, Technical Support


Key Partnerships

  • Rose Brand
  • JBL Cinema
  • Chauvet Professional
  • Environmental Lights
  • Belden
  • BSS Audio
  • Chamsys
  • Cisco
  • Interactive Technologies
  • Yamaha Pro Audio
  • Shure Inc.
  • ACE – American Cinema Equipment
  • Crown
  • Mystery Electronics
  • Pathway Connect
  • RCI Custom