Padelford Packet to Build New Showboat

Thursday, January 11, 2001
The Minnesota Centennial Showboat is returning to the Mississippi River. The Department of Theatre Arts and Dance of the University of Minnesota is announcing plans, pending approval by the Board of Regents, to purchase a historic replica of the nineteenth century floating theaters being built by the Padelford Packet Boat Company of St. Paul. The original showboat, also known as the General John Newton, was acquired and renovated in 1958 during the celebration of Minnesota's first 100 years of statehood. Throughout the next 35 years, more than 400,000 people from all 50 states and 48 nations attended productions by University theatre students-from Shakespearean comedies to vintage melodramas, mysteries, and musicals.

The showboat became a signature feature of the university riverscape and a treasured Minnesota landmark.

A fire last January nearly put an end to the tradition, until Padelford Packet Boat Company developed plans to build a new showboat. The showboat represents a collaboration among St. Paul Parks and Recreation, the Riverfront Corporation of St. Paul, the College of Liberal Arts, the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance, and Padelford Company. The move to Harriet Island will occur in the fall of 2001, which will reflect both St. Paul's vision for an accessible family-oriented riverfront, and University Theatre's commitment to offering quality productions with broad appeal to people of all ages.

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