Comments from LouisRugani

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LouisRugani commented about Towne Cinema on May 4, 2011 at 6:32 pm

The TOWNE CINEMA in downtown Watertown is reopening with a midnight showing of “Thor” on Friday, May 6th at 12:01 a.m. Doors will open Thursday at 11:30 p.m. The Towne Cinema will also be showing “Thor,” “Fast Five” and the 1939 classic “The Wizard of Oz” throughout the following week.

The theatre has been closed since mid-December of last year when Steve Lind, the former lessee of the facilities, decided to terminate his lease. Lind and his family had leased the business since November of 2004.

The new operator of the theatre is David Glazer, who also owns and operates the ROSEBUD CINEMA DRAFTHOUSE (nee TOSA Theatre) in Wauwatosa and the TIMES CINEMA in Milwaukee.

The newly-refurbished cinema will play a mix of first-run films as well as special family matinees, classics, independent movies and midnight cult favorites.

LouisRugani commented about Geneva 4 Theatre on May 3, 2011 at 3:50 pm

(Janesville Daily Gazette, June 5, 1953)
Silents to 3-Dimension, Record of Veteran Geneva Projectionist
LAKE GENEVAâ€"From the silent movies to 3-dimension â€" that’s the record of progress for Raymond Mellien, who celebrates his 25th anniversary Saturday as a movie projector operator at the Geneva
Theater. And Mellien, in his long experience says, “Movies really are better than ever."
Mellien actually began his career in 1925. At that time he worked as
an apprentice operator at the old Majestic Theater, now the site of
the Kroger Store on Main Street. He became associated with the Geneva
Theater June 6, 1928, and has been with it through more managers and employes than he can remember.
The veteran operator, interviewed in his upholstery shop here, recalled some early incidents in his life.
He was born in Chicago 47 years ago and came to Lake Geneva at the age of 4. He learned to play the drums as a child and harbored a desire to be a circus performer. During these early years he produced many backyard shows for his friends and neighbors. A chance to travel with a professional show did present itself, but he was forced by his parents to refuse.
Upholstering, which was his father’s business, was very distasteful to him as a boy, Mellien recalls, but now the Haskins Street shop which meant so much to his father has taken on a new meaning for him. He finds the work he does there in the daylight hours gratifying and at times relaxing.
Mellien, tall, slender and soft-spoken, enjoys his work as a projector operator so much that he has made a hobby of showing home movies which he makes himself.
He is married to the former Florence Warner of Lake Geneva. They have two sons, Ray, 21, and Dennis, 15.
Mellien recalls that the first picture shown at the Geneva Theater 25 years ago was silent. It starred William Haines in "I’ll Tell the World”. On the same bill were presented five acts of vaudeville, and, he added quietly, “One of them was from Ringling Brothers.”
His first sound movie was George Jessel in “Lucky Boy” – and the sound was on records. The date of this event was April, 1929. Not until a year later did he show a film with sound as it is today. He showed his first 3-D movie last Sunday night.
Of all the performers who were stars a quarter century ago , Nellien believes Gloria Swanson, Joan Crawford and the Barrymores are still star material today. His all-time favorite is the late Wallace Beery. Among the hundreds of pictures he has viewed, he considers “Gone With the Wind”, “Quo Vadis” and “The Greatest Show on Earth” the best. He was especially impressed by Ingrid Bergman’s performance in “Joan of Arc” and is looking forward to her return to American movies.
His favorite of favorites is the presentation of Irene Dunneand John Boles in “Back Street” in the early 1930s.
Of today’s stars, Mellien especially likes Bette Davis, doesn’t think too much of Marilyn Monroe’s “talent”, though he admits she is a tremendous drawing card.
About movie audiences, he had this to say:
“The movie public today knows a lot more than the old audiences. Today they pick their pictures and a movie has to be outstanding in order to draw a crowd. In the old days they went to the movies no matter what played."
Mellien admitted television is the movies' greatest competitor. He doesn’t feel that 3-D movies will bring audiences back to the theatre.
"Only fewer, but better, pictures can do that."
Mellien dislikes double features and pictures made from former hits.
"They seldom compare with the original,” he continued.
Mellien expects to continue in his present job for many years. His only ambition now is a trip to Hollywood, a place he knows so much about but has never seen.
Aside from his two jobs and his hobby, Mellien finds time for other activities. He represents the Third Ward on the county board and is a member of the Masonic Lodge and the Consistory in Madison.
The Geneva Theater, a member of the Standard Theater chain of Milwaukee since 1937, honored Mellien on his 22nd anniversary with the theater. At that time, Russ Mortensen was manager. Present manager is Melvin Coon.

LouisRugani commented about Regency Value Cinemas on May 2, 2011 at 8:02 am

Requiem for a shoebox cinema:


Tales of razed theater keep reels spinning

By Mike Moore, Racine Journal Times

RACINE – Pockmarked by decades-old popcorn oil stains, the bright blue jacket Steve Dodd once wore to work at Regency Cinema looked its age Saturday.

About 20 former employees and movie buffs gathered to reminisce about the former theater and chuckle about old photos taken there, including one of Dodd taking tickets in the same blue coat. Now 45, he stood in an empty field where the cinema stood northeast of Regency Mall and remembered when the place had state-of-the-art technology.

“The lifespan of this building was, like, nothing,” said Dodd, a Mount Pleasant resident who now works for QuadGraphics in West Allis. “It’s amazing to me it has come and gone this quick.”

He did some work at the theater after General Cinema Corp. opened it in the early 1980s and later became a projectionist. Marcus Theatres Corp. converted it to a budget theater in 2006 after building a new multiplex in Sturtevant, but the company soon deemed the Regency building obsolete and it was demolished in July 2009.

Bob Tapp, who spent 21 years of his career at Regency Cinema, wanted to do something as a tribute to Rick Luehr, his longtime co-worker who died last year. Eventually, he said, it “steamrolled” into an event he hoped might serve as a kind of closure for everyone. “When they tore the building down, there wasn’t really an official goodbye,” said Tapp, 52, of Racine.

The former employees recalled the time they ducked into closets and behind the snack counter after a Christmas night fight led to gunshots outside. They joked that police officers seemed to patrol the area more often after the cinema workers began giving them free popcorn.

The regular customers remained fresh in their minds, including one good tipper with purple-tinted hair who insisted her popcorn be made without oil or salt.

But mostly they remembered one another, whether it was the Thursday night sneak peeks at new movies or bringing their kids and friends in to help out.

“It was a close-knit group, so it didn’t feel like work,” said Brian Friedrich, 36, who drove up from Round Lake Beach, Ill., where he’s a property maintenance assistant for The Salvation Army.

Tapp asked the group to write letters to local and mall officials with suggestions for what they’d like to see on the empty lot. Topping his own wish list was another theater.

LouisRugani commented about Genoa Theatre on Apr 27, 2011 at 4:36 pm

(December 23, 1969)
Witheril Forms Cinema Combine
Theodore F. Witheril, owner of the Capitol and Rialto Theaters in Racine, the Roosevelt Theater in Kenosha and the Genoa Theater in Genoa City, has combined the four into Mid-America Cinema, Inc.
Witheril said the headquarters of the corporation will be at the Capitol Theater, 3017-21 Washington Ave.
He explained the move would substantially decrease paper work and make bookkeeping easier.

LouisRugani commented about Butterfly Theatre on Apr 27, 2011 at 4:24 pm

(November 29, 1950)
Albert Fink
RACINE – Albert Fink, 83, one of Wisconsin’s leading violinists, died at his home Tuesday after a heart attack.
Mr. Fink studied in Berlin under the world famous teacher and artist Josef Joachim from 1888 to 1894. He returned to America to become a member of the first violin section of the Chicago Symphony orchestra.
After touring with Walter Damrosch, Fink became head of the violin department in the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music in Milwaukee. He taught at Marquette, Milwaukee-Downer and Milwaukee State Teachers college.
In 1918 he became concert master of the Butterfly Theater orchestra, then outstanding in the Middle West.
Funeral services will be held here Thursday afternoon.

LouisRugani commented about Cameo Theatre on Apr 27, 2011 at 4:04 pm

(November 15, 1934)
Kenosha, Wis. – An enthusiastic movie fan, who is collecting pictures of his movie stars, may be interrupted by a jail sentence if police catch him. The manager of the Cameo theater reports that almost every morning after he puts up new pictures in the display cases in front of his theater someone takes some of the photos. He asked the police to help catch the thief.

LouisRugani commented about Vic Theatre on Apr 25, 2011 at 4:32 pm

(Manitowoc, February 20, 1931)


The Orpheum theater at Green Bay, which was recently entirely rebuilt and operated since it was opened by Harry K. Timm, passed into new hands yesterday following foreclosure of a land contract under which Mr. Timm was purchasing the new showhouse from Dr. J. R. Minahan. Miss Virginia Den Doven was appointed receiver and for the present will have charge of the operation of the theater at Green Bay.
The Orpheum was recently rebuilt by Dr. Minahan at a cost of $300,000. The old structure was almost entirely torn down and a modern building erected. This work was done by Joseph Rezash, Two Rivers contractor. Mr. Timm had managed the old Orpheum for nearly 20 years.
The New Capitol theater will pass into new hands tonight when R. S. Guiterman, independent theater operator will assume active control of the playhouse. And the occasion will be made much of at a gala opening, featured by speech making and the premiere showing in Wisconsin of the Paramount feature “Stolen Heaven” starring Nancy Carroll.
Large floral pieces reached the theater office this afternoon, not only from fellow exhibitors in Wisconsin and from film booking offices, but also from Manitowoc citizens, testimonial of their interest in the new regime at the theater. Proceeding the program tonight there will be a short automobile parade in which those taking part in the program will ride. The canopy sign of the New Capitol will blaze forth in renewed glory tonight, for electricians were busy today equipping the sign with an entire new system of lighting.

Receives Many Telegrams

Inside the theater patrons will be greeted with an enlarged screen, the position of which has been moved forward to bring a change that will add to the visibility and general sound qualities. In addition to the floral offerings received by Mr. Guiterman, numerous telegrams have also been received from theater men and executives and also from moving picture stars and celebrities in Hollywood wishing the new manager here success in his new field. Judge Albert H. Schmidt will preside as master of ceremonies at the speaking program on the stage of the theater at 7:30 this evening. He will officially welcome Mr. Guiterman to Manitowoc and in turn will introduce the other speakers who will give brief talks. These will include Mayor Martin Georgenson of this city and Mayor Herman Schuelke of Sheboygan. Illness will prevent Fred Meyers, Milwaukee president of the Motion Picture Theater Owners Association of Wisconsin from attending tonight, but another official of that organization will be here to extend the welcome of the theater owners and managers of Wisconsin to Mr. Guiterman. Allen Usher, Milwaukee, district manager of the Paramount-Publlx corporation, film distributors, will be present and talk. Representatives of the daily press of Manitowoc will welcome Mr. Guiterman to the city.
The short speaking program over, the picture program will continue.
Tomorrow night will inaugurate a new feature here, midnight showing of the Sunday feature, following the final showing of the Saturday program at which patrons may see both programs for the one admission price.

LouisRugani commented about Bruce Theatre on Apr 22, 2011 at 4:25 pm

Construction of the BRUCE Theatre began on September 14, 1946 with Fred Conover, a local contractor, erecting the theatre with local labor over that fall and winter through a period of six months.
Grand opening of the New Bruce Theatre was on Easter Sunday, April 6, 1947 with the feature “Without Reservations,” starring John Wayne and Claudette Colbert.
H. E. Zielke of Hawkins and son Robert F. Zielke of Bruce were the owners and aso had a theatre in Hawkins beside Bruce. Bob Zielke was the BRUCE’s first manager.

LouisRugani commented about Grace Theatre on Apr 22, 2011 at 4:07 pm

(July 16, 1930)
Bomb Is Exploded at Milwaukee Movie House
[Associated Press Leased Wire)
MILWAUKEE â€" A dynamite bomb was exploded in front of the Grace theater, a neighborhood movie house, at 2:55 a. m. today wrecking the front of the structure.
Paul Orsic, manager, said the only motive he could ascribe for the bombing was a disagreement with an operator who wanted to join the union.
A stick of dynamite, the fuse partly burned, was found on the roof of the theater after the blast.

LouisRugani commented about Mozart Theater on Apr 22, 2011 at 3:43 pm

(Appleton Post-Crescent, March 22, 1926)
Frank Cook, manager of the Bijou theatre on Oneida-st for over two years, has disposed of his interest in the theatre to his partner, Robert Knoepe and will leave Tuesday afternoon for Milwaukee where he will take over the management of the New Mozart theatre at Eleventh-st and Greenfield-av. Mr. Cook will continue to buy pictures for the local playhouse and also will direct its advertising.

The New Mozart theatre has been remodeled into one of the most pretentious places on the south side of Milwaukee. Mr. Cook came to Appleton to take over the Bijou theatre two years ago last September.

LouisRugani commented about Peerless Theatre on Apr 22, 2011 at 3:16 pm

(October 23, 1939)
Safe Burglaries Reported in Milwaukee
MILWAUKEE, Oct 23. â€" Four safe burglaries, only one of them successful, were reported to police today. Unsuccessful attempts to crack safes were made during the weekend at the Riverview Ballroom, the Coffee Trailer company and the Peerless theater. At the latter the burglar stole two fountain pen sets and a small motion picture camera.

LouisRugani commented about Kim Theatre on Apr 18, 2011 at 5:08 pm

(October 10, 1956)
Free Children’s Show At New Kim Theatre
Concurrent with Englewood’s 67th birthday celebration is Grand Opening of the newly-remodeled Kim theatre, W. 62nd and S. Halsted sts., October 10-14.
Highlighting the five-day celebration will be two free shows for children Friday and Saturday from 9 to 10:30 a.m. There’ll be free gifts, refreshments and a film schedule of top favorites.

Modernization of the new Kim is first in a series of scheduled improvements in the W. 63rd and S. Halsted sts. area. There are all new seats throughout, a new marquee and doors, enlarged lobby, new lounges and complete redecoration.
Bruce Trinz, general manager of the Clark theatre, heads up the management of the Kim.
Formerly known as the National Theatre, Englewood’s well known theatre opened its doors in 1908 as a headquarters for stock company shows and vaudeville. It was converted to a movie house in 1930.

LouisRugani commented about Grand Theatre on Apr 18, 2011 at 5:00 pm

(December 5, 1963)
Virginia Man Has Passion for Cinema
RICHMOND, Va. â€" When the Grand Theatre opened here on Aug. 10, 1933, Charles B. Hall attended, and he has been going pretty regularly since.
He says he has attended 1,775 movies there and paid $558.62 in admissions.

LouisRugani commented about RKO Mainstreet Theatre on Apr 18, 2011 at 4:20 pm

(April 15, 1912)
Central Association To Auction Off Boxes for New Theater Opening
Members of Racine lodge, No. 152, B. P. O. Elks, will not open the new Orpheum theater in the Bate block, the project having been abandoned.
Arrangements had been made between the Elks and management of the new house that the place be opened with one of the leading attractions, perhaps the John Drew company. After every effort had been exhausted, the committee of Elks visiting Chicago and other cities, they found that it was not possible to get a suitable attraction and so it was decided to drop the project.
The house is expected to be opened on May 20, with high grade vaudeville attractions. There is a project on foot to donate all of the boxes in the house to the Central association, the boxes to be auctioneered off, and the money to be devoted to the association. When a definite date is decided upon for the opening, more particulars will be given to the public. In the meantime the finishing touches are being made on the interior of the play house and it will be one of the most attractive in the state of Wisconsin.

LouisRugani commented about Radio Theatre on Apr 18, 2011 at 3:42 pm

Dream of Masquers Comes True; Get a Little Theater

To meet an evergrowing demand for superior dramatic productions, the Masquers, a little theater group headed by Howard Rooney, 6248 Sangamon st., plan to inaugurate a season of plays starting with “Illusion,” September 18.

The plays are to be presented in the Masquers' own theater, a renovated movie house, at 5035 Halsted st. All work in rehabilitating the old showhouse is to be done by the players, following their own plans, designs and color schemes in the lay-outs of the interior.

Old Movie House.

For several years, the playhouse on Halsted st. has been empty, having been originally designed for silent pictures. In the course of the passing years, the building has deteriorated until now it is virtually dismantled. The Masquers have contracted with the owner of the theater to remove all but 100 of the seats, to enlarge the stage for dramatic offerings, and to make the necessary changes and redecorations incident to the opening in the Fall. The enterprise will be supported by subscriptions.

Towards the front of the theater and near the entrance a lounge will be furnished for the convenience of patrons. The plan is to allow for freedom and friendship during intermission and after plays.

Orange, silver and black will predominate in the color scheme of the interior. Indirect lighting will insure soft illumination.

Lots of Work.

With the schedule of the Masquers arranged to begin their season September 15, the work of renovating the theater building, coupled with rehearsals and other necessary work, will mean the attendance of the troupe at the theater four or five nights a week throughout the summer.

“Illusion”, the play that is to be the curtain-raiser at the Masquers little theater, has been written by Mr. Rooney especially for his company. With the script in readiness, work may be started at once towards preparing the way for its thorough and successful presentation. This end in view, the Masquers are meeting tonight at the Hamilton Park fieldhouse, 72nd st. and Parnell ave. at 8 o'clock, to discuss the project further and complete plans and arrangements for their newest undertaking.

Want to Join?

Mr. Rooney will welcome persons interested in the drama or the mechanical side of the play at the meeting. If attendance tonight is impossible, he may be reached by telephone or letter at his home.
On the social calendar of the Masquers is a “Hollywood” party to be
given Saturday evening. June 30, in the basement bar at the home of
Paul Olsen, 7351 Lafayette ave. Guests will appear in costume or informal dress for an evening of dancing and gayety. Mr. Rooney is taking reservations.

LouisRugani commented about Paradise Theatre on Apr 16, 2011 at 10:57 am

Original URL: <>

Another church group hopes to convert old Paradise Theater


The venerable Paradise Theater could get another shot at an afterlife.

A new but growing church on Milwaukee’s East Side is seriously thinking of buying and renovating the 1929 theater at 6229 W. Greenfield Ave. on the city’s busy Six Points intersection, and holding services there.

The Epikos Milwaukee Church would continue to hold services in the former Westminster Presbyterian Church, 2308 E. Belleview Place, which the church bought in 2009, said the Rev. Danny Parmelee, the church’s founding pastor. The church, which was formed in 2005, now has nearly 500 members, Parmelee said.

Despite its east side location, the church has many members in West Allis, some within walking distance of the Paradise, he said, and would welcome a more west-side location for them and others who come from Brookfield, Wauwatosa and as far away as Oconomowoc.

In addition to a sanctuary, the church would like to convert a corner of the now vacant building into a coffee shop. It would be professionally run and have a full espresso bar and light sandwiches, Parmelee said.

If the coffee shop makes money, it would be donated to charities helping people around the world and to those helping West Allis, he said.

City officials are willing to work with the church, but a lot has to be done, said John Stibal, development director. “We’re going to be cautiously optimistic that something can be put together,” Stibal said.

As the sad gem stands now, it’s a hindrance to the city’s redevelopment efforts in the Six Points area, he said. That redevelopment effort includes National and Greenfield avenues from about 60th to 65th streets – an area on which the city has already spent a lot of money and wants to get it back through redevelopment.

“You hate to see it demolished,” he said of the 82-year-old Paradise that has achieved icon status in the city.

But a repair or raze order is in effect and, with the deadline already past, the city could enforce it anytime, Stibal said.

To forestall that, development officials want the church to put a sum to be determined into escrow to ensure that repairs are made.

“We got burned a couple times,” Stibal said, referring to previous owners who promised repairs but let the building deteriorate.

What the Paradise needs now to not slow redevelopment is windows, facade and masonry restoration and replacing just about all the interior systems including plumbing, he said.

He doesn’t want to give the church a deadline for coming up with repair funds for the escrow account, but neither does he want to allow unlimited time. “If we see a good-faith effort, we’ll work with them,” Stibal said.

Church officials understand the city’s cautionary approach, Parmelee said.

“I think the city is a little scarred by things that happened,” he said. “We have to show them we’re actually going to follow through.”

Besides repair funds in an escrow account, the city will probably require annual payments in lieu of taxes because turning the building into a church would take it off the property tax rolls, he said.

The theater stopped showing movies in 1996 and has held an uncertain role in downtown West Allis since that time.

The Paradise Family Life Center was the latest tenant, holding religious services there for about four years until 2009. The church did interior improvements but it ran out of money. The property ended up in the hands of State Bank of Chilton following foreclosure.

The theater was subsequently purchased last year by Courtney Hollis, the wife of Jay Hollis, the former owner of the Rosebud Cinema Drafthouse. Courtney Hollis was listed as the registered agent for a company, created in May, called Paradise LLC.

Shortly after its acquisition, the properly was again listed for sale last summer.

The building has now been vacant for about two years.

For recent interior photos:

LouisRugani commented about Beverly Theater on Apr 14, 2011 at 4:06 pm

Architect Oliver W. Stiegemeyer was born in 1891, and by 1910 was listed as a draftsman, working for August F. Haeussler from 1909-1910 and then for Duggan and Huff from 1910-1912, the firm which designed the CLIMAX Theatre in Milwaukee and the CHEROKEE Theatre in St. Louis. From 1913 to 1931 he was a partner with a Mr. Kennerly and together they did a home at 3424 Longfellow in St. Louis, and the Deco/Moderne DuQuoin State Fairgrounds in Illinois. His final office address was at 4412 Lindell Boulevard, where he retired in 1942. Stiegemeyer died in 1985.

LouisRugani commented about Climax Theater on Apr 14, 2011 at 3:51 pm

There is a rare if modest 1915 photo of the exterior of the CLIMAX taken from Motion Picture World in the Wisconsin Theatres forum at . An unusual theatre, not foursquare at all as you’ll see, which I saw in 1962-1963, but the ornamentation visible in the photo was already slathered over by what looked like plaster slurry.

LouisRugani commented about Douglas Theatre on Apr 14, 2011 at 3:18 pm

(September 28, 1935)
The Douglas theater has completed Installation of the new rainbow vari-kolor fixtures throughout the amusement house. These fixtures, which have only been manufactured for a short time, are beautiful in appearance and are made up with all available colors to be obtained in electric lighting.
With the newly installed equipment, the Douglas theater can now change the color and atmosphere as many as 104 different times, with beautiful subdued color effects to be seen in lighting as the result.
This new lighting is the same as is being used in the largest theaters of the country. The Douglas theater is the first amusement house in Racine to install this type of lighting. The installation is one of several modernization features now under way at the Douglas. The management, proposing to have the theater up-to-date in every detail, has installed a new stoker for even temperature for the comfort of patrons during the winter. Additional improvements are scheduled for completion shortly.

LouisRugani commented about Climax Theater on Apr 13, 2011 at 5:15 pm

(October 12, 1965)
Climax Theater Interior Burned

Fire charred the interior of the former Climax Theater on Milwaukee’s near northwest side Monday night.
Battalion Fire Chief Alvin Hainke said the blaze began in a former offstage dressing room at the theater which has been vacant for a considerable time. There was no immediate damage estimate.

LouisRugani commented about Al. Ringling Theatre on Apr 13, 2011 at 4:56 pm

(January 16, 1953) Two Baraboo Theaters Sold to New Milwaukee Company

The Al Ringling theater, “America’s Prettiest Playhouse” since 1915, has been sold with its sister theater, the Juliar, to a new Milwaukee corporation, Baraboo Theaters, Inc., by Henry E. Ringllng.
Purchase price for the theaters was announced at more than $150,000. The Al Ringling theater, when it was completed in 1915, cost $100,000.
The corporation which bought the theaters also operates theaters in Richland Center, Boscobel, Elroy, and Black River Falls. It is headed by Jacob Eskin, president of the Eskin Theater Management Co., Milwaukee.
The Al Ringling theater was built by Albert Ringling, an owner of the Ringling Brothers circus. It seats 834, and at the time it was built was one of the largest and finest theaters in a city of its size in the country.
The Juliar, a much smaller theater, was completed in 1938 by Henry E. Ringling, in memory of Mrs. Selome Juliar Ringling, mother of the Ringling brothers.
The Al Ringling theatre originally was built for legitimate theatre, or as an “opera house.” It was converted to a movie theater later. It is still used for area theatrical performances.
Famous actors who have visited the theater during the time it was an opera house include Lionel Barrymore and Charlotte Greenwood.
Henry E. Ringling, Wisconsin Republican national committeeman, was in Washington for the inauguration Thursday and could not be reached for comment.

LouisRugani commented about Juliar Theatre on Apr 13, 2011 at 4:55 pm

(January 16, 1953) Two Baraboo Theaters Sold to New Milwaukee Company

The Al Ringling theater, “America’s Prettiest Playhouse” since 1915, has been sold with its sister theater, the Juliar, to a new Milwaukee corporation, Baraboo Theaters, Inc., by Henry E. Ringllng.
Purchase price for the theaters was announced at more than $150,000. The Al Ringling theater, when it was completed in 1915, cost $100,000.
The corporation which bought the theaters also operates theaters in Richland Center, Boscobel, Elroy, and Black River Falls. It is headed by Jacob Eskin, president of the Eskin Theater Management Co., Milwaukee.
The Al Ringling theater was built by Albert Ringling, an owner of the Ringling Brothers circus. It seats 834, and at the time it was built was one of the largest and finest theaters in a city of its size in the country.
The Juliar, a much smaller theater, was completed in 1938 by Henry E. Ringling, in memory of Mrs. Selome Juliar Ringling, mother of the Ringling brothers.
The Al Ringling theatre originally was built for legitimate theatre, or as an “opera house.” It was converted to a movie theater later. It is still used for area theatrical performances.
Famous actors who have visited the theater during the time it was an opera house include Lionel Barrymore and Charlotte Greenwood.
Henry E. Ringling, Wisconsin Republican national committeeman, was in Washington for the inauguration Thursday and could not be reached for comment.

LouisRugani commented about Juliar Theatre on Apr 13, 2011 at 4:11 pm

(August 30, 1993) The city of Baraboo has agreed to buy the aging Juliar Theater on the city’s square for possible razing and use as a parking lot for the county courthouse and the downtown area.
Last week, the city council voted to buy the building for $27,400 from Al Ringling Theatre Friends, which plans to use the money to continue renovations on the Ringling Theatre.
The Juliar is adjacent to other property recently purchased by the city for parking. (Wisconsin State Journal)

LouisRugani commented about Southtown Theatre on Apr 12, 2011 at 4:20 pm

(Southtown Economist, November 11, 1930)



Clubs Join in Ceremonies for $2,500,000 Movie

While a throng of more than 1,500 persons looked on, ground was broken yesterday noon at 63rd st. and Lowe Ave. for Southtown’s new $2,500,000 Balaban and Katz motion picture theater.
The beginning of construction for the new enterprise is regarded as an impetus for building operations throughout Southtown. Approximately 100 men will be employed for 240 days in the erection of the new theater. This group of workers will be made up, as far as possible, from residents of Southtown.
The event yesterday noon was marked by a community celebration in which representatives of more than a score of civic organizations throughout Southtown co-operated with the Englewood Business Men’s association, sponsor of the ceremonies for the ground breaking.

McDonnell Gives Talk

William McDonnell, publisher of the SOUTHTOWN ECONOMIST, gave the address of welcome at the celebration.
“The Balaban and Katz organization is to be congratulated for launching its building program at this time.” he said. “By actually starting construction work within four months after the site was acquired, the theatrical concern is furnishing a stimulus for a greater amount of building work in Southtown."
Barney Balaban, vice-president and general manager of the Balaban and Katz organization, explained to the gathering that his concern is doing everything possible to be of constructive worth to the Southtown district.
"Within the past 10 years our concern has spent approximately $10,000,000 in building operations in Chicago,” he said. “We believe that the Southtown area has been one of the greatest sources of patronage for our organization and we, at this time, are doing what we can to aid this territory by erecting this theater.”

Fish, Himmel Talk

Other speakers at the ceremonies were Leonard Fish, president of the Englewood Business Men’s association, Harry S. Himmel, president of the Englewood Commercial and Civic association, William D. Saltiel, city attorney representing Mayor Thompson, Alderman Walter W. Morris (18th), and Alderman James O. Coyle (17th).
Music for the ceremony was furnished by Frankie Masters, Balaban and Katz orchestra leader and his players, and the Tilden, Parker and Englewood high school bands.

Acme In Achievement

With a sum of approximately $2,500,000 involved in the huge undertaking, the new movie palace will hold the distinction of being the acme of the Balaban and Katz concern’s achievements in theater construction. The new building will have the reputation of occupying the largest theater site in the world. The ground, purchased last June for approximately $1,000,000, comprises approximately 154,000 square feet and is said to be four times larger than any other theater site.
The new theater, according to Balaban and Katz officials, was planned several months before the site was selected. It represents the ideal in theater construction of that concern, particularly in respect to sound, comfort, acoustics and stage accommodations.

To Seat 3,500

Special acoustic plastering, which has been proven effective, will be used for the walls and ceiling of the auditorium which will have a seating capacity of 3,500 persons.
The front of the new building will be featured with a grand entrance that will face 63rd st. and be designed in the effect of a great portal. It will be 70 feet wide and will extend as a wing away from the main structure to a distance of 60 feet.
Immediately adjacent to this and to the right will be a tower which is to be brilliantly lighted. The lobby or foyer of the structure will be one of the largest to be found anywhere in theater buildings. It will be known as the grand rotunda and will be 81 by 223 feet in size. This immense hall will be decorated with waterfalls, fountains, pools, garden features and retiring alcoves.
It will contain an indoor playground for children, which will be connected with an outdoor children’s playground 41 by 45 feet in size.
The new theater will contain every latest improvement of modern science for making perfect sound reception. To this end a special sounding board, said to be the latest development of the Western Electric company’s sound engineers, will be installed. No other theater in the country will boast of this newest feature.

LouisRugani commented about Bell Theatre on Apr 12, 2011 at 3:29 pm

There’s a photo of the ROOSEVELT Theatre in the Wisconsin Theatres discussion group: .