Times Cinema

5906 W. Vliet Street,
Milwaukee, WI 53208

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LouRugani on February 9, 2024 at 11:30 pm

Garage Becomes a Gorgeous Movie —– Ansel M. Moore submits an appraisal of a recent conversion project and points out several reasons why the new Times Trans-Lux Theatre is the talk of Milwaukee. / THIS IS news! Here’s a case in reverse. A garage building actually became a moving picture theatre - and it is a modern theatre in every particular. Not so very long ago, it was common practise among owners and builder of moving picture theatres to hedge a bit in their construction plans. Not that all theatre owners are poor sports - decidedly not. This business is pretty much of a sporting event all the way through and the successful theatre owner doesn’t spend much time searching for a sure thing. He’ll take his chance and an even break to win is about all he asks. Nevertheless, there’s still a tendency to hedge in the matter of construction. For instance, many a moving picture theatre has been erected in the past with a predominant idea lurking behind that she don’t go as a picture show, we’ll tear out the seats, level up the floor and make a garage out of her. Significantly, most of those theatres built under the garage complex would not even serve on a good day as nurseries for motor cars although strangely some of them are still trying to kid the public into classing them as places of amusement. The new Times Theatre in Milwaukee is an example of the application of courage and common sense in the conversion of property. One would never associate this delightfully modern place of amusement with what it was before it became a modern moving picture theatre. The amazing structural transformation was brought about by clever redesigning and furnishing and we are informed that the cost thereof was surprisingly within the bounds of reason. Certainly there is no call for in this project on any point; unrespective of expense involved it is a modern theater of which Milwaukee may well be and is in fact quite proud. Times is a Trans-Lux type of theatre, in which rear-of-screen projection is most successfully employed. In description of other mechanical features of the Times, we abstracted a few paragraphs from the opening announcement program sponsored by the management and quoted them here. Not only have we brought the newest and most modern way of projecting pictures to Milwaukee but the management has spared nothing to make the Times Theatre the most modern and up-to-date theatre possible. The most careful consideration has been given the most minute details. The entire designing and construction has been carefully engineered by experts. The air that you will breath in the Times Theatre has been washed before entering the auditorium cleansed of all dust and bacteria. Proper humidity will be added in the winter to prevent dry, sore throats and headaches. Three times the amount of air required by the State Board of Health for each person will be brought into the theatre every minute. The most comfortabile seats obtainable have been installed, the best in carpets and lighting fixtures. The best obtainable in sound has been installed as well as devices for the hard of hearing. Especially do we wish to bring out this one feature. Tell any of your friends who have not attended talking pictures because they were hard of hearing that they can now enjoy talking pictures. The front of the Times is an extraordinary example of good advertising display in which light and lustre play the leading roles. Unrespective of expense involved it is a modern theatre of which Milwaukee may well be and is in fact quite proud. The foyer is sensibly arranged and furnished in a delightful mix. Of particular note is the lighting arrangement, the effect of which is a system of vari-colored lights produced by the main celling fixture. At the left a pleasingly appointed lounge with side-lighted mirrors and makeup tables. Distinctive tubular steel furniture completes the ensemble. The auditorium delightfully decorated and lighted with color changing fixtures of a new and modem type. The new Times Theatre, in Milwaukee, an example of the application of courage and common sense in the conversion of property. One would never associate this delightfully modern place of amusement with what it was before it became a modern moving picture theatre.

JerryEiff on March 14, 2019 at 5:27 am

I now live one and a half blocks from the Times and can see it’s Marquee lights from my front window. I am happy to say it has been remodeled and is showing first run films again. The owner has also remodeled his two other theaters the Rosebud in Wauwatosa and the Avalon on the south side and they are also showing first run films again. All three are small and very comfortable.

Trolleyguy on August 23, 2014 at 8:58 am

Current website: http://www.timescinema.com/

LouRugani on December 26, 2012 at 5:46 pm

The Times reopens on Friday, December 28, 2012 at 6 PM with a floodlight and a red-carpet runner after being dark since March when its lender began foreclosure proceedings. New owner Lee Barczak bought the Times at auction in May, and on Sunday, December 23 he announced details of the Times' reopening ceremonies, which will feature “Django Unchained” at 7:30 PM.

CSWalczak on April 10, 2012 at 4:15 pm

This theater and the Rosebud have been closed; reopening depends on a successful resolution of their financial problems. View link

Trolleyguy on February 23, 2012 at 5:24 pm

The other theater in this group, the Towne in Watertown, WI, has been dropped from the website and the phone has been disconnected.

LouRugani on February 22, 2012 at 5:52 pm

Former owner Jay Hollis has been hired to manage and keep the TIMES and ROSEBUD open while a search convenes for a new owner. AnchorBank of Madison had foreclosed on the mortgages, but the bank said today that the theaters will remain open. Hollis, a former painting contractor, created the Rosebud in 1999 after redoing the former Tosa Theater, and sold it in 2007. After owner David Glazer said the two theaters would close during the first week of March 2012, AnchorBank spokesman Timothy Carter said Hollis was hired by Siegel-Gallagher, the court-appointed receiver of the properties, to begin operating the theaters beginning March 1 throughout receivership while a new owner is found. Byron Butler, the senior vice president of marketing at AnchorBank, called Hollis “the original visionary” and said it was appropriate to continue operation with him.

rivest266 on February 22, 2012 at 5:32 am

June 12th, 1935 grand opening ad has been posted here.

vclamp on February 22, 2012 at 12:26 am

A sad day indeed. “Times and Rosebud theaters to permanently close” article links: http://www.avclub.com/milwaukee/articles/times-and-rosebud-theaters-to-permanently-close-th,69667/ http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/owner-says-rosebud-times-theaters-to-close-1149dpb-139828233.html http://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2012/02/21/time-and-rosebud-cinemas-to-close.html

The land was purchased in 2007 at the height of the ‘real’ estate bubble, and now there is now way the bank will help them recover. I have been to both many times. :(

rivest266 on October 16, 2010 at 2:48 pm

This opened on June 17th, 1935
They did not have much money for a large ad at the time.
first directory ad is at View link

JimRankin on June 25, 2004 at 4:36 pm

This place should be relabeled as the TIMES CINEMA/TANS-LUX THEATER so that it appears in the Tranx-Lux list, even though there are no more true Trans-Lux rear projection cinemas in existance. It was once a true Trans-Lux franchise as the excellent history by Cory Jacbson makes clear. More information is on the HISTORY page of the TIMES CINEMA at: www.TimesCinema.com

JimRankin on April 13, 2004 at 10:21 am

Please let me know if you learn anything more about this theatre. Thank You. Jim Rankin =

CoryJacobson on January 25, 2004 at 7:37 pm

The theatre was opened in 1935 on the site of a former a Pontiac dealership. The original owner also operated the Tosa Theatre (opened in 1932) located at 68th & North Avenue. With the booming business at the Tosa, the second theatre project was developed. The Times is a very unique theatre building and actually the auditorium
was built into an exhisisting garage building formally known as “The Vliet Street Garage.” The garage portion of the building starts at about the edge of the screen area and extends to the back of the building. This can be seen by examining the bricks on the west wall.
The Times was Milwaukee’s first and only Translux Theatre (projecting the film from behind the screen) The projection booth was later moved to the back 4 to 5 aisles of the theatre when Cinema Scope was introduced in the 1950’s. The Translux rear-projection system utilized a mirror system that could not be used for Cinema Scope. The seating was also replaced at this time (1957) and the new capacity was 448. The Times Theatre was also the first theatre I Managed and during that time (1981-1986) we were able to do some major cleaning up of the facility. We painted everything in sight (with the help of the staff of 7 people) and replaced the Box-office, Concession stand, and carpeting.

The Times Theatre and the Tosa Theatre were also the first Marcus Theatres in Milwaukee and were originally owned by Ben Marcus and if memory serves a man named Smirnoff. These tow theatres were known as S & M Theatres and the this name appeared on some of the theatre records as late as the 1980’s. Smirnoff was an early business partner of Marcus and had interest in several other theatres in out-state Wisconsin. As a side note, Smirnoff’s widow lived in Florida until her death in 1983 or 1984 and she still maintained ownership of the Tosa building. Marcus purchased the Tosa Theatre from her estate for approximately $75,000 at the time of her death.

The Times was and I suspect is unique in that it is the perfect neighborhood theatre. The street was always busy and the merchants in the area always added a great deal of atmosphere. I can recall the thick smell of pine burning at Stienhoff’s Garden Center(they flocked Christmas Trees and Wreaths)and Eric Dobke’s Bakery Doughnuts combining to create an unforgetable combination of smells. Patrons would stand in lines that extended down the block and around the drug store ending well past the alley to see films. “The Big Chill” played at the theatre for 18 weeks and customers would come from every community in Milwaukee for our many exclusive shows.

I currently own two theatres in Detroit and have operated 10 theatres in my lifetime and the Times Theatre will always be my favorite! This was a great experience that not many people have in their life and I wish I could turn back the clock! Glad to see it is still going strong.

Cory A. Jacobson
Former Manager
Times Theatre

AndrewWillenson on January 14, 2004 at 5:29 pm

Sandy Folaron and Eric and Sue Levin deserve the highest praise for their operation of the Times Cinema. Very classy operation, featuring both classic movies and art-house movies.

I last saw Alfred Hitchcock’s “To Catch A Thief” at the Times. It was actually crowded in the theater. I hope business is overall good these days. The Folarons and the Levins sure deserve profits!


Andrew N. Willenson

William on November 19, 2003 at 4:24 pm

The Times Theatre seated 525 people.

Johnfolaron on November 19, 2003 at 1:11 pm

The address is 5906 W. Vliet Street Milwaukee Wisconsin 53208
also The Times Cinema is Owned by Sandy Folaron who purchased it from the Marcus Corporation not Eric and Sue Levins, Folaron restored it to it present condition and leases it to Eric and Sue Levin who currently are the operators of the theater and lease it under a differant enterprise. This is in Milwaukee Tax records.