MILWAUKEE MOVIE PALACES
Milwaukee Movie Palaces is
currently out of print, but Larry Widen’s new
book on Milwaukee
theaters, “Silver Screens,” is being published by the Wisconsin
Historical Society. Silver
Screens will be available in early 2006. More information will be available
In the meantime, enjoy these fun facts about some of Milwaukee’s
Academy of Music
had the distinction of being the first theater in Milwaukee to install electric lighting
(1882), and the first to show a motion picture (1896).
Tosa Theater was built in 1930 by Ross Baldwin, a
former Universal films salesman from Chicago.
In 1940, a theater operator from Ripon, Ben Marcus, bought the Tosa as his first entry into the Milwaukee market. In 1999, the theater
was remodeled into the Rosebud Cinema Drafthouse.
Regent was operated by Fred Seegert in the
1920's. Seegert closed the theater in 1929
because upgrading from silent picture equipment to the new
"talking" movies was too expensive.
Tower, at 27th and Wells Streets, was one of the Saxe
brothers' movie palaces. These ushers
were trained to treat customers with the utmost courtesy and respect,
showing them to their seats and even brushing off their coats.
Varsity theater at 13th and Wisconsin has
since been annexed into Marquette
University where it
is used as a lecture hall. In the 1940,s the Varsity building housed the Fox-Wisconsin
theater company's headquarters.
crew of ushers, this time at the downtown Warner theater, 212 West Wisconsin. The
Warner opened in May, 1931. The theater was twinned in 1973 and renamed the
Centre; later it was called the Grand Cinemas 1 & 2. The theater closed
Egyptian was located on Teutonia Avenue just south
of Capitol Drive.
Gold statues and Egyptian-styled decor were used throughout the auditorium
and lobby. The theater was demolished in 1984.
Bluemound Drive-In opened in the 1940’s. The
former drive-in property is now occupied by Fuddruckers restaurant near Brookfield Square.
in 1895, the Schlitz
was converted into a movie theater in the 1920's. The Garden, as it was
called, had the distinction of playing Milwaukee's first "talking"
pictures with Al Jolson in 1927.
Saxe, along with his brother John, opened many of
first theaters. Their 1902 nickelodeon, was
located at 2nd and Wisconsin.
In 1909 they opened the Princess theater on 3rd Street. Other Saxe
theaters included the Alhambra, the Wisconsin, the Oriental, the Garfield, the Tower and the Uptown.
read about Harry Houdini’s days in Milwaukee,
John Freuler and the Butterfly theater,
Jacob Litt's fabulous Bijou Theater and the crazy
19th century dime museums in Milwaukee's
Or take a look at more than 100
vintage Milwaukee postcards
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