Uptown Theater

116-118 N. Main Street,
Fort Atkinson, WI 53538

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 26, 2019 at 4:07 pm

A book published by the Dwight Foster Public Library in 1986, on the occasion of Fort Atkinson’s 150th anniversary, has a brief paragraph about the Uptown Theatre:

“The Uptown theater began serving Fort Atkinson residents in November 1937. It had an interesting cooling system: owners I.J. Craite and John Mayles flooded the theater’s flat roof with 2 to 3 inches of water during the summer months. This supposedly helped keep the theater cool and protected the roof from the sun’s rays. The main floor of the theater seated 392 people, while the balcony held 92, for a 484-person capacity.”

CSWalczak on September 12, 2010 at 8:41 pm

The link does not seem to be working; based on the error message, I think that the picture may be in an archive generates URLs that expire when the user signs out or a session times out.

Trolleyguy on August 28, 2009 at 1:43 pm

Status should be changed to closed/demolished. This theater has been completely gutted between the outside walls and converted to retail space on the first floor, with apartments above. Compare the picture below to the black and white one posted above and look at the buildings flanking the center one, which is the former Uptown Theater. The parapets and roof lines are relatively unchanged, as well as the window configuration.

View link

The address is 116-118 North Main St.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 20, 2009 at 10:02 pm

There was indeed a Fort Theatre in Fort Atkinson. The May 15, 1937, issue of Boxoffice said “Walter Baier has constructed a penthouse atop his Fort Theatre in Fort Atkinson.” Then the June 25, 1938, issue says that plans were being drawn for a complete remodeling of the Fort Theatre, including a new front and marquee. Boxoffice mentions the Fort frequently, with references to it as late as 1978, when it was being operated by a small regional chain called Genoa Theatres. A 1974 item about another remodeling said that it had 450 seats.

As for the Uptown, the December 4, 1937, issue of Boxoffice ran this item datelined Fort Atkinson: “The new Uptown Theatre was opened here last week, with Herb Barrett as manager.” The Uptown was probably the subject of a brief item in the June 5, 1937, Boxoffice, datelined Fort Atkinson, which said “I.J. Crait, of Horicon Wis., has started building a new theatre here, to be 110x31 feet.” In 1938 Walter Baier, of the Fort Theatre, took control of the Uptown. Walter Baier is mentioned as operator of both the Uptown and Fort in Boxoffice items into the 1950s.

The March 11, 1974, issue of Boxoffice ran an item datelined Fort Atkinson and headed “Theatre Building Conversion.” A Mr. and Mrs. Reuben Gartman had purchased the Uptown Theatre from its last operator, National Theatres, and were converting the building for retail use. The item added that National Theatres had also sold the Fort Theatre less than two years earlier.

Fort Atkinson was also the site of the Highway 18 Drive-In, opened by Walter Baier in 1953 and first managed by his son, Robert.

Bing00 on April 20, 2009 at 8:23 pm

Wasn’t there a theatre in Fort Atkinson named “The Fort”? It was just off Main Street.