Oriental Theatre

2230 N. Farwell Avenue,
Milwaukee, WI 53202

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Showing 26 - 50 of 68 comments

Broan on November 17, 2007 at 11:05 pm

Interestingly, a 1927 issue of Exhibitor’s Herald announcing the Oriental and Senate(?) theatre projects in Milwaukee names Gurda & Gurda as the architectural firm. Anyone know what the story is there?

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on October 26, 2007 at 5:35 pm

This is a recent view of the marquee.

Broan on October 7, 2007 at 11:09 pm

Recent photos of this theatre are HERE

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on August 16, 2007 at 10:35 am

This is a recent night view of the Oriental Theater.

GeorgeStrum on August 4, 2007 at 8:04 am

The Theatre Historical Society visited here on June 21st. Of all the theatres on our itinerary to me this was the most impressive. The original 1920’s lamps hang down along the grand lobby entrance. The famous organist from Milwaukee, Jelani Eddington played the Kimball organ for us and sounded magnificent. Those giant buddahs with colored eyes and the elephants about just awesome.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on July 13, 2007 at 12:24 pm

Another recent photo of the Oriental Theater can be seen here.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on July 9, 2007 at 5:30 pm

Here is a vintage photo of the Oriental Theater.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on June 7, 2007 at 9:19 am

This is a 2007 photo of the Oriental Theater.

JimRankin on December 24, 2006 at 2:42 am

Life: Thank You for taking the time to detail all of this. Now I can see the arrows and the image you originally mentioned is the last on your list.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on December 23, 2006 at 5:44 am

Maybe it is an incompatible browser sort of thing. There should be orange arrows within the pircture frame at top. Clicking on the arrows allows me to move from picture to picture. Here is the whole photo set:


You can also access via the Searle & Associates Projects page, Adaptive Reuse section:


Looks to me like a very tasteful project. Here is how Searle describes it:

Built in 1927, the Oriental Theater is an example of an exotic revival movement that used Arabian, Egyptian, and Far Eastern ornamentation. The corridor between the two new theaters is designed to reinforce the illusionary quality of fantasy and grandeur inherent in the old movie palace. The corridor columns, simplified versions of the originals, are made of faux marble plastic laminate with wood trim. The concern in this remodeling was to preserve the existing theater volume and ornament, while enhancing its quality with the addition of the two theaters.

ERD on December 23, 2006 at 3:53 am

Absolutely a stunning and unique looking theatre. A reminder of an era of great showmanship.

JimRankin on December 22, 2006 at 11:52 pm

Life: is this the photo you intended? It looks toward the stage front, not the two little auditoriums. And “arrows at the top”? I see none.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on December 22, 2006 at 6:11 pm

Great auditorium photos, showing the two cinemas built under the balcony, can be found here:


Use the arrows at top of photo to navigate.

mp775 on December 19, 2006 at 8:54 am

Thanks for the correction.

JimRankin on December 18, 2006 at 8:00 pm

A small point: the ORIENTAL is not owned by Landmark, but operated by them under a lease. So, the long term welfare of the theatre is more in the hands of its owner (a group of local business investors heretofore specializing in housing), rather than its operator. To be sure, if Landmark should somehow leave the theatre, its future would be more in doubt, since investors buy to increase their investment returns, not out of nostalgia for any property.

mp775 on December 18, 2006 at 9:14 am

The Oriental is definitely well cared for, and there are more than a couple of theater buffs among the staff there. It is, however, owned by Mark “day-and-date” Cuban’s Landmark Theatres…

Newyorkee on November 5, 2006 at 10:28 pm

Those are some very beautiful photos of the Oriental lobbies. A couple of massive multiplexes have opened in New York in the past decade where an attempt was made to recapture the dream palace flavor — one in the Disney-ized 42nd Street, and the Sony near Lincoln Center. Of course, nothing can compare to the real thing. I do hope owners of gems like the Oriental appreciate what they have and keep things at least maintained, if not completely restored.

Broan on November 5, 2006 at 3:36 pm

Russell Phillips Photos:

Upper Lobby

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on October 26, 2006 at 7:57 am

This is another recent photo of the Oriental Theater.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on October 14, 2006 at 2:17 pm

Here is a recent photo of the Oriental Theater.

Newyorkee on October 12, 2006 at 1:45 am

I lived on Farwell Avenue across the street from the Oriental as a student at UWM in the early seventies. I remember often taking advantage of the cheap double features they showed then. My first time at the Oriental was a Halloween costume party in 1970 I think. They showed the original Frankenstein film — quite a revelation to see it on a big screen — and the entire audience, most quite stoned and/or tripping out of their minds, howled when Dr. Frankenstein’s father lit up and puffed greedily on his very large carved pipe. Those giant Buddhas with the glowing eyes and jewels were truly amazing, as was the rest of the decor.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on June 5, 2006 at 6:32 pm

That’s cool. No problem Jim. I haven’t listed an email address on purpose. From time to time I get into it with people who I think are trying to use and abuse the preservation community, like Paul Warshauer. I don’t need messages from guys like that.

JimRankin on May 11, 2006 at 6:11 am

Life: I’m glad to hear about your screening at the AVALON, but since this is the ORIENTAL’S page I don’t feel right talking about another theatre here. I would have privately E-mailed you, but when clicking on your moniker in blue at the bottom of your comment, I am taken to to your Profile page where I should find your E-mail address under CONTACT INFO, but there is nothing there. That can be rectified if you will click on the link PROFILE in the upper right corner of any page and, if your cookies are turned on, you will be taken to your own page where you can correct the oversight.

Otherwise, you can click on my name below and thus find the E-mail to contact me.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on May 10, 2006 at 6:23 pm

Good news Jim. I have always wanted to see a movie at the Oriental & have never gotten around to it. I have been to a screening at Milwaukee’s Avalon. The Avalon was great when I was there in the early 90’s. Hope it will come back to life again.

gin on May 5, 2006 at 4:19 pm


I can’t thank you enough for the information on Alexander Bauer. THe reason I am looking is that I grew up in the house he designed and built for himself in 1929. The house was built in Whitefish Bay in 1929, and the upstairs bathroom is apparently very similar to the one at the Oriental Theater. My mother passed away in december of last year and we are getting ready to sell the house, and I wanted to put as much info together as I could.

I really appreciate you taking the time to respond…and so quickly. Thanks again. gincleary