Home Theatre

126 E. Cook Street,
Portage, WI 53901

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Functions: Furniture Showroom

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HOME Theatre; Portage, Wisconsin.

The smaller of two downtown Portage theatres, the Home Theatre was opened around 1916. It was equipped with a Smith 2 manual organ. In the 1920’s it was equipped with a M.P. Moller 2 manual organ which had 28 registers. It was closed in 1960. The building is today used as a furniture store.

Contributed by Lou Rugani

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 7, 2014 at 1:16 pm

Page 27 of this PDF has a photo of a derailed streetcar with the Home Theatre in the background. The document says that streetcar service in Portage ended in 1916, so the Home Theatre was in operation by then.

I had a friend in high school who had lived in Portage, but he never mentioned the names of any theaters there.

AndrewBarrett on September 25, 2014 at 11:49 pm

According to “The Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ” by David Junchen, pg. 631, the “Home Theatre” in Portage, Wisconsin, had a two-manual Smith theatre pipe organ installed at some point.

Other than the state, town, and theatre name, and # of manuals, no other details are given in the book.

However, given what I know so far about the Smith firm in its various permutations:

If this organ was installed through about 1916, it was likely a Smith organ made in upstate New York.

If it was installed between about 1917 and early 1921, it was likely Seeburg-Smith organ made in Chicago in the Seeburg factory under Smith’s supervision.

If it was installed between late 1921 and early 1924, it was likely a Smith organ made in Chicago in Smith’s own factory.

Finally, if the organ was installed between late 1924, and the end of the 1920s (c. 1927) it was likely a Leathurby-Smith organ made in Alameda, California. However, the latter is quite unlikely, since I’m not aware of any Leathurby-Smith organs sold outside of the West Coast states (California, Oregon, and Washington).

If anybody knows any more info about this organ, or the theatre itself, that would be great!

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 21, 2022 at 8:44 pm

The Home Theatre was one of three houses listed at Portage in the 1914-1915 American Motion Picture Directory, the other two being the Crystal Theatre on DeWitt Street and the Empire Theatre, no location given. By 1916 Portage had houses called the Gem and the Majestic, though the latter was slated to close that year.

50sSNIPES on November 22, 2022 at 10:45 am

I’ll add those theaters as soon as possible. Otherwise, the Home Theatre dates as early as 1911.

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