The Prom Ballroom was at 1190 University in St. Paul. It was built by developer Carl J. Fox, who also built the Surf Ballroom in Iowa and the Terp Ballroom in Austin, Minn. Glenn Miller and his Orchestra played the grand opening in 1941; the ballroom held 6,000, and 3,000 had to be turned away. Miller would be followed by other well-known artists including Count Basie, and Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey. Swing, polka, jazz, and rock n’ roll groups played the space, spanning such diverse musical acts from Lawrence Welk to Buddy Holly and Crickets, to the Police. Harry Given was one of the hall’s four co-owners in 1959. The house orchestra was the Jules Herman Orchestra. The Prom offered a 9,000 square foot hard maple floor. Small booths and tables ringed the edge, where dancers could rest and order food.

In 1956 WDGY disk jockeys hosted Saturday dances for adults and teen dances on Fridays (sponsored by Coke).

In April 1956 the Prom advertised that it had been fully redecorated throughout, with
glamorous new lighting, smart new murals and appointments. In the 1950s and ’60s the Prom hosted some of the biggest acts in the country.  See the bottom of this page for a phenomenal list, provided by Timothy D. Kehr.

In the mid ’60s it featured rock bands on Fridays and both rock and big bands on Saturdays (“rock vs. smooth”).

1966: “Those who have not attended the Prom since college days, we now have  complete cocktail lounges and comfortable seating!”

By the late ’60s it was owned by Dick Clay and hosted mostly Big Bands. The ballroom met with the wrecking ball on September 29, 1987 and a fitness center occupies the former location on University Ave. See a feature on the Prom on Lost Twin Cities II.

thayerprom

Shot from one of Jack Thayer’s Teen Dances, courtesy Pavek Museum of Broadcasting

promballroom2

prominteriormhs

Prom interior, Minnesota Historical Society

prommemorybook

This is probably the cover of a folder that kept the photo the roving photographer took of you having fun at the Prom. Image courtesy Josh McKeown.


ACTS AT THE PROM

Timothy D. Kehr made a list of the biggest rock ‘n’ roll acts that appeared at the Prom Ballroom in the ’50s and ’60s:

Len Barry

The Bell Notes

The Big Bopper

Gary US Bonds

Jimmy Bowen

Donnie Brooks

Johhny Burnett

The Byrds

Jo Ann Campbell

Freddy Cannon

Johnny Cash

The Cascades

The Champs

Chubby Checker

Lou Christie

Jimmy Clanton

Mike Clifford

Eddie Cochran

Billy Crash Craddock

The Crests

Dale and Grace

Danny and the Juniors

Bobby Darin

Dick and DeeDee

Dicky Do and the Dont’s

Dion and the Belmonts

Carl Dobkins, Jr.

Ral Donner

The Dovells

Dave Dudley

Paul Evans

The Everly Brothers

Johnny Ferguson

Frankie Ford

The Four Seasons

John Fred and His Playboy Band

Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs

The Hollies

Buddy Holly

Brian Hyland

The Ivy Three

Wanda Jackson

Jan and Dean

Jay and the Americans

Johnny and the Hurricanes

The Kingsmen

Buddy Knox

Dickey Lee

Johnny Maestro

The McCoys

The Mystics

The Newbeats

Paul and Paula

The Poni-Tails

Jody Reynolds

Floyd Robinson

Tommy Roe

Bobby Rydell

Santo and Johnny

Jack Scott

Del Shannon

Skip and Flip

Johnny Tillotson

The Tokens

The Turtles

Conway Twitty

Ritchie Valens

Bobby Vee

The Ventures

Gene Vincent

The Vogues

Jerry Wallace

Save

Save