Showing 1 - 25 of 49 comments
A correction.. It seems that my email address does not appear in the profile section. If you have any information about this theater, please write me at
Hello Everyone! Happy to see that this Eberson gem has been well preserved. Two items.
I’m trying to find out more about the ‘fist’ crest, and I’ve looked at the links to photos and have yet to find it. It’s a cool detail sort of like my church which has a ‘green man’ in the leaves of one detailed area. Does someone have a photo of an example of this? I’ve seen another atmospheric where there were many ‘crests’ but they were simple multi-colored ones'.
Also, I noticed the Peacock on the right side ‘box’ area. This was done in several of his other designs.
If anyone can help me with a photo of the ‘fist’ I’d appreciate it. I’m working on an article for a historic magazine about Eberson and atmospheric Theaters.
Sarahbauman… sorry to move us off topic for a post… would you be so kind as to contact me regarding your theater. I’m working on an article about Ebersons Atmospheric designs and would enjoy being able to ask a few questions. Thank you.
The correct website for this theater is http://www.andersonparamount.org/
In the 1930’s Eberson had updated his theater style to art-deco, Art Moderne. Some of these are listed as Atmospheric, though they lack the treatments that he had applied to his work in the 1920’s. Those theaters had vaulted Azure ceilings that met with sculpted or painted walls simulating a garden. The ceiling was either outfitted with small electric lightbulbs that twinkled – using automobile style blinker switches – or a Brenograph, a projector. They also used the Brenograph for the projection of clouds that moved across the sky. An example of one of his other creations can be seen here: http://www.sftos.org/olympia05.htm While others attempted to copy his style, there are several details that seemed to be lost by the casual viewer, who might be trying to copy his style. There are rumors that some of his plans were stolen and then used, but these cannot be confirmed.
I hope that helps. Too bad we all lost this Eberson design!
Greetings From Milwaukee,
First off, for those of you who read this page fully, you have noticed a number of postings by Jim Rankin. Mr. Rankin passed away in January of 2007. He was well known in Milwaukee for his extensive knowledge of Theaters both here and elsewhere.
Secondly, I am very pleased to find that an Eberson theater has been brought back to life and it seems it has been done well. I hope some day to see it and others designed by him.
I spotted on one of the links a photo of the procenium and was wondering if anyone else had a photo of it that might be sharper… no offence intended, dark theaters are not easy to get a good shot in, more so with digital cameras than older slide/film cameras when we could ‘push’ the film. Anyway, if someone would have one, would you be kind enought to send it to me at
I’m working on an article about atmospheric theaters and noticed that a link on this page also referred to this theater as the Paradise/Venetian. Any further information on this would be greatly appreciated.
And lastly.. I had to be done sometime.. does anyone know the opening date for this theater?
It is sad to see an Eberson Design fall to such a bad end. I’ve just been watching a theater of a similar design that was in about the same shape as the Palace taken down not far from me. It had started down it’s final journey many years ago and met it’s end now. Looking at the photos that were linked to, about all one could hope for is to extract elements of it that can be salvaged. Sad.
If anyone has information about this theater in any of it’s business forms, please write me. My email address is on my profile, found under my name below.
Having search through copies of the Milwaukee Journal and Sentinal in the year 1954 and a bit before in recent days, I saw that those theaters were always advertised seperatly from one another, but the Fox movie houses always were under one block.
dts, et al. Mr. Jim Rankin Passed away on January 3rd, 2007. Sadly, we have lost a person with great knowledge of movie theaters in the Milwaukee area.
I’m not certain what happened with his vast collection of information.
Hello from Milwaukee Wisconsin!
I’m sad to see that we have lost this great piece of cinema history. Here in Milwaukee we have just watched as the first atmospheric built in Wisconsin was torn down. I grew up about two blocks from it as a child and followed the building’s history. Seeing the photo posted by Bryan Krefft, I am wondering if anyone knows of a listing of theaters designed by John Eberson? The Venetian was by the Firm of Peacock and Frank, and they were local to Milwaukee. But, there are a number of elements of the Venetian that seem similar to the Majestic.
BTW.. Had anyone else noticed that the Jim Carry Movie was of the same name (And centered in part around a Movie Palace)?
One of my fellow ‘watchers’ on the site took a photo of when the where opening the front of the building. Sadly enough, it had an incredable view of the upper lobby with many details.
Just to make record of it, the Venetian was razed starting March 27th, 2007. As of today, April 15th, only the stage wall remains standing.
For those who were wondering
Photo taken of the site today…
I’m sorry to see we have reduced parts of this page to name calling and the like. Glad we are back on track.
Urbanremains.. thank you for the education on terra cotta and the markings. That information really makes the piece mean even more to me. I’m thinking about the workers who had cast it and then those who read those markings and knew how to place it on the building as a result of that. All of this work was done, of course in the pre-computer age, when drawings were done with a pencil, ruler and T-square using a slide rule for calculations.
As of this morning, the former Venetian site is as follows,
A large heap of brick and rubble pushed to the center of the site. Nothing of the lobby or the like remains in place.
The stage wall and parts of the stage remain standing, all large metal has been removed.
One person I spoke to, who seemed to have a better idea on how a demo like this is done than I would know, told me that they could be putting this heap down as a cushion for when the pull the stage wall down. Sadly, that move will mark the very end of the Venetian Theater.
Those are some beautiful items that were found there. I saw others who were retrieving items last week, could be that was some of it.
I was told that prior to the start of razing, the company doing the work was asked for permission to go on site and remove the full amount of terra cotta from the building exterior but the company did not respond.
As for safe and legal going on site, I’m afraid I’m not able to answer that. But I can tell you that about all that is left of the building is the stage wall (I’m sure there is a term for it) and parts of the stage. The reminder of the material has been piled together by the crew over the former lobby area in what looks like they are preparing to start dumping it in trucks. I’d say there is nothing left to get from it.
I believe that some pieces are on display at Historic The Times Cinema.. at least that’s what I heard.
Thanks Ziggy.. know I know that term correctly (wish I could go back and correct that.. oh well.. So much for that career as a writer!)
As for capitals being saved, I know for certain of two. I have one of them.
Though it is chippped, considering the fall it took to the street below, it’s still a cool piece. The back of it has a very cool item, which to me just adds to the wonder of this building and what I have of it.
You can see the finger marks of a worker who spread morter material on the back as well as where they stopped moving. A little piece of history frozen in time.
There is a great deal of detail on this part. The colors are very brilliant, which I think is amazing given the age of it.
I have a few other pieces such as this portion of the arch that was over the wrought iron balconys on the front and west side.
Note the numbering on this piece
I also have this proscenium detail piece which was the underside of the porch.
This is for me an example of the details that were in the building. View link
It is a fragment end piece of a column and you can see the slight ridge detail on the depression. This was not something I ever saw from the ground, but close up it can be seen. Also, I was impressed with the faux marble treatment on this as is the arch piece. I imagine this might have faded a bit, but still an amazing detail.
They truly don’t build them like that any more.
OK, two more photos..
The movie screen as it hangs yet today.
The curtains that were on the sides of the framwork are still there after all these years. From the ground it appears to be a 1.33:1 format.
Larry Widen in his book (written with Judi Anderson) Silver Screens – A Pictorial History of Milwaukee Movie Theaters Writes “During World War II, the theaters importance as a news source became frighteningly evident when, in 1941 Japan bombed the Navel base at Pear Harbor, The Avalon and Venetian Theaters interrupted their showings of Here Comes Mr. Jordan to announce the disaster. …”
Perhaps they were watching it on this screen? Perhaps someone knows.
Some more photos of the Venetian.
Photo of a Shield from building exterior on the ground.
A Shield that stopped at the base of a Tree on the sidewalk
Tuesday 4/10/2007 – shell of building
Rope sign – Circa 1946 – or at least the paper was.
How I know the age…..It was on the back of a movie poster for a Red Skelton Movie “The Show Off” If it was a first run movie shown at the Venetian, then, that’s the age.. or close, right?
Sadly, it has taken the distruction of this building for us to see the great detail that went into building it. For example,
Proscenuim detail – looking up from center of the stage
proscenium detail – side and top
After all these years, the paint is still there on some of the parts. I suspect that the white painted areas were the result of the drop ceiling and over painting of the garden interior for Venetian Sales.
This detail is above the Proscenium, stage left. You can see three important items here. The great structure to simulate a porch over the stage. the sky painting complete with a cloud that remained and some of the lighting in the auditorium. I’m guessing this is the lighting that helped to dim the night sky at the beginning of a show and simulate a sunset/sunrise as part of that.
This is the same type of lighting fixture as shown in the photo above. This was on the west side of the building. Can anyone confirm this? The flex conduit is confusing as the date this would have been installed. Is this original 1927 type lighting and conduit
One of the corner piller sections on the ground
A column piece
Sorry folks, I could not get a better photo of the movie screen, still hanging with curtains. Video comming soon.
Hand written note of what to do in case of fire – stage right toward front.
A capitol piece from front left side of building
Capitol piece closer – note the numbering on the side. Several pieces that could be seen had this exact same type of marking
A Film reel, I’m guessing it’s pre-1955 era.
Here is something that was pointed out to me by someone. Look at the two photos:
section of the East wall
See something odd about them?
Left side shield section
I’ve been looking at this building since the late 1960 and never saw it.
Lastly, the durability of this building was evident by the difficulity that the crew had in trying to raze it. I count at least 3 layers of bricks in this photo of the east well where it meets up with the stage front wall.
If you have any further information about the restoration of the organ, or the new owners, please forward it to me so I may add it to the history of this theater. My email address is on my profile.
Scott, thanks for your comments. As of this morning there is really nothing to see except for the back wall and stage area as well as the shell of the lobby. All other areas have been razed and cleared. The site is not accessable and police are watching closely, given the damage to the nearby house this is not a suprise.
Yes, the interior was a pool of plaster, we can enjoy what little can be seen and appreciate the workmanship of that bygone era.
Here are some photos taken of the razing of the Venetian.
The Projection booth and balcony:
View link (Very cool photo in that I’ve never seen this part of the building.. would love to have been up there even for a minute!)
Re-enforcement of the East Wall:
West Wall and Stage area:
Detail shot of the front fake balcony door:
Roof and partial wall:
View link (taken yesterday)
West Wall and full building:
Detail of a second story front window. These have been boarded over for many years:
East Wall corner:
Roof Details and tear down of East wall:
Stage area: Marked view of details over the stage. The orignal painted walls are visible. Did not see this while in person, noticed only on the photo. It was a remarkable find.
Stage area portions over the stage:
The stage is actually smaller than I expected it would be. This is a wider shot than the one above. You can see how some of the plaster details for the fake Venice balcony areas are over the stage opening.
It is with a heavy heart that I write this. As I do so, the Venetian Theater Building is being razed. A crew arrived 4 days ago and as of this afternoon, most of the west wall including the terra cotta corner, most of the east wall and a larger percent of the roof are torn down. The roof was pulled down away from the stage. This afternoon Milwaukee police had Center street blocked off to all traffic while the east wall was removed as there was concern that the front wall may colapse into the street.
I will post photos and a link to them as soon as I am able. Two other people are providing me with photos of the progress and I have there permission to display them. These will show the progress of this final event for the building as well as show details that were perhaps of come curosity for those have read this page for any amount of time.
Some items to note. The projection booth was intact, with the details around it including handrails for the balcony. The balcony was present as was the stage with the colored details around it and above it as well. It is very easy to see the bases of the ledges that were over the stage. One person who has been watching the razing continually over the last 4 days reported to me that upon opening the west wall where work started, none of the interior was visible or intact. It was a crumbled mess as he described it, except for the items I have mentioned above.
An attempt to retrive the terra cotta by an interested party was met with no response by the contruction crew chief. I was able to secure two bricks from the east wall that I will treasure. There are markings on one of the bricks which should permit me to determine the company that made them.
The lady is not going in that dark night with out putting up a good fight! The duplex to the east of the building, which was about 4 feet away from the brick wall has recieved damage from when the east wall was taken down. There is a large gaping hole in the roof perhaps about 10 foot long and consuming most of the roof height. One officer told me that a few bricks came crashing into the residential area of the home.
I will post any further updates and will also post links to the photos once I have them sorted out.
As an Addendum to my above commentary. The book “Silver Screens” by Larry Widen is a treasure trove of information about the history of Movie Theaters in the Milwaukee and near surrounding area. I was given a copy of it as a Christmas gift and have been enjoying it grealy. If you are looking for information on an assortment of theaters, with some great photos, I’d recommend it.
I stopped in at a local bookstore and took a look at the new Larry Widen Book, Silver Screens. While he does give some great information on the many theaters that were in the Milwaukee area, don’t go to it with expectations of learning more about the Venetian than you see here. There is one photo of the exterior and it was taken shortly before the building was shut down and several other references to it, but mostly in passing. Just some thoughts for your Holiday Shopping.
A correction, if I may. The larger plans that I had printed from Record Services at the Milwaukee City Hall are of the seating plan and not the building elevation. Perhaps I should have had her print the other plan they had on file of the heating system.
I spoke yesterday afternoon with a gentleman who had drawn the theater floor plan in 1990 as part of a planned renovation, which placed leveled the floor in the auditorium up to point where the balcony curve met the side walls, this would be used for storage or the stock liquor. He told me that his recollection was that the concession stand was gone at that point, but the stage was still intact.
His opinion based on what he saw then and from the damage I described to him is that there is likely little left of the interior and that if the metal beams on the roof have been exposed to snow and rain and sun, as they have they would be weakened and could pose a dangerous situation. He was also somewhat amused at the difficulty that tearing down this building poses. It was built heavy and fireproof due to problems with theater fires elsewhere and Milwaukee codes. The foundation is about 10 feet of solid concrete and the walls are not only the brick facade we see, but other structural elements that will pose a challenge to those to try to take it down. Also, the three-foot distance to the residence to the east of the building.