Temple Theatre

116 S. Main Street,
Viroqua, WI 54665

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Temple Theatre (Official)

Additional Info

Previously operated by: Paramount Pictures Inc., Publix Theaters Corporation

Architects: Bernard Dockindorff, Albert E. Parkinson

Functions: Live Performances, Movies (Classic)

Styles: Art Deco

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 608.606.2340

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Copyright © 2011, Associates of the Restored Temple Theatre. All rights reserved.

As part of the restoration of the Temple Theatre, the old movie palace has begun the slow reconstruction of its original Wurlitzer 3 manual organ. Opened with the theatre on July 1, 1922, the organ played along with the theatre’s silent films and continued to be used in the old theatre until 1938 when it was sold to the Coon Valley Lutheran Church.

When the restoration of the theatre began in 1994, members of the Associates to Restore the Temple Theatre retrieved the organ and brought it back to the Temple Theatre. Organ enthusiasts began to restore the organ earlier this year, taking it apart in anticipation of repairing and restoring the classic piece. The group are also members of the La Crosse Scenic Bluffs Chapter of the American Theater Organ Society.

The theatre today is now open presenting live performances and from April 2018 a digital projector and a screen have been installed to show Classic Movies.

Contributed by Ross Melnick

Recent comments (view all 8 comments)

Gregg on February 4, 2004 at 8:26 am

The web site for this theatre can be found at:

teecee on March 2, 2005 at 1:50 pm

Nice expandable photos at this link:

View link

atmos on June 28, 2005 at 11:13 am

The architects were Parkinson and Dockendorff and it reopened in 2002.

kencmcintyre on November 29, 2008 at 8:48 pm

Function should be changed to live performances.

Trolleyguy on March 24, 2016 at 3:24 am

Updated website link: http://historictempletheatre.com/

unglaciated on April 18, 2018 at 6:02 am

The Temple Theatre has recently installed a new screen and projector, and movies have returned. The first film to be shown on the new screen was Citizen Kane.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 5, 2022 at 8:25 am

This item is from the July 29, 1922 issue of The Billboard: “The Temple Theater, Viroqua, Wis., was formally opened early this month and has been enjoying excellent patronage.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 30, 2024 at 5:32 am

The NRHP registration form for the Masonic Temple Building (PDF here) says that the Temple Theatre opened on July 1, 1922 under the management of local showman Ben C. Brown, who had first shown movies in Viroqua at the old Brown Opera House at 120-122 N. Main Street in 1908, and had later operated an Airdome, a storefront house called the Electric Theatre, and then in 1915 the Star Theatre, which was in a new building at 211 S. Main Street.

In 1931, the Masonic Lodge entered lease agreement with the Paramount-Publix theater chain, which remodeled the theater interior from its original Classical Revival style to the popular, modern Art Deco style, and installed a modern marquee, though the building’s exterior was otherwise unchanged, retaining the Classical Revival look it still has today. Having lost control of the Temple, Ben Brown responded by converting a garage on Court Street into the Vernon Theatre.

Neither the local Masonic lodge nor Paramount-Publix prospered in Viroqua in the early years of the depression, and by 1935 the Masons had lost their building and Paramount its lease on the theater. The building’s new owner, William Dyson, sold the upstairs lodge facilities back to the Masons, but retained ownership of the ground floor, leasing the theater to a local operator, though it was not Brown. The new operator, Jacob Eskin, refreshed the house and installed new seating with four more inches between rows.

By 1951, when Ben Brown celebrated his sixtieth anniversary in show business (he had started as a promoter of shows in the town’s Brown Opera House in 1891) he was once again a partner in the Temple Theatre.

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