Kewaskum Theater

Fond Du Lac Avenue,
Kewaskum, WI 53040

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I found a photo of a Kewaskum Theater. The photo is dated 1949 but Imdb dates the movie on the marquee, “Willie Comes Marching Home”, as 1950, which is the year the theatre opened. Click the link below for a photo of the Kewaskum Theater.

The Kewaskum Theater was closed in June 1970.

Contributed by Lost Memory

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on December 25, 2006 at 9:23 am

End of the road, 6/2/70:

Final Curtain: Reasons for Kewaskum Theater’s Death Varied

KEWASKUM, June 2 â€" The final curtain came down on the Kewaskum Theater Sunday night. Its doors have been closed after providing movie entertainment for the past 20 years. Outside, the marquee that once advertised current films or coming attractions, Monday morning held this brief, but to the point, message “Theater Closedâ€"building
for sale.”

Willful damage to the interior and lack of respect by the youth plus lack of adult patronage were the reasons cited by Kilian A. Honeck in announcing the closing. He and his wife took over the management about 15 years ago, mainly to keep the theater going so there would be entertainment for the young people, he said. “Topaz,” an Alfred Hitchcock spy thriller may live in some moviegoers' memories. It was the last movie to be shown.

The idea of a movie theater for Kewaskum originated in 1949. Instrumental in the plans were Dr. F.E. Nolting, a local dentist, and Atty. Lyle W. Bartelt who had a law practice here then. Bartelt now lives in Florida. The first plans, it was learned, were aimed at a combined theater and bowling alley project. The bowling alley idea “fizzled out” while the theater idea was earnestly pursued. Some 40 local businessmen formed and became stockholders in the Kewaskum Community Theater Corp. On June 2, 1949, the articles of
incorporation were written.

The newly-formed group voted to buy the property on Fond du Lac Avenue where the late Dr. and Mrs. George F. Brandt had lived. The home and an adjoining building, in which Brandt conducted a veterinary office, were moved from the site to make way for the theater that would seat 450 persons. Opened and dedicated in the fall of 1949, it was as comfortable and up-to-date as any in the area, one of the stockholders stated.

The first president of the theater corporation was the late George Hansen who equipped the building with all facilities. He managed for about five years while his son, Floyd, was projectionist. A serious heart attack forced the senior Hansen to leave the business. About
then, a Milwaukee man by the name of Paul Frazier was theater manager for about three months, Honeck said. Around that same time, he stated, the theater was closed for about three months due to a polio epidemic.

There were two shows nightly plus a Sunday matinee when the theater opened but the schedule dwindled to Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday night showings plus a Sunday matinee. The last few years movies were shown only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. One of the shareholders commented that “the theater was built on the premise that it would be a place of entertainment, but that it came a little too late because television began to surge in popularity in the early 1950s”. Honeck goes along with the theory that television had some effect on theater attendance but “more so in the early 50s than now.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 2, 2008 at 9:22 pm

A small article about this theater appears in the September 2, 1950, issue of Boxoffice Magazine. It says the architect was Urban Peacock of Milwaukee. The Kewaskum was built long after the firm of Peacock & Frank was dissolved, so it can just be listed as the work of Urban F. Peacock.

The article says that the theater was of “modernistic” design, built of concrete blocks with a brick facing, and describes the interior as “…finished with varicolored Celotex blocks and lighting is of trough type.” It says that the theater had RCA projection and sound equipment, and “…475 Kroehler seats are installed in the auditorium.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 23, 2009 at 2:32 am

Boxoffice of April 15, 1950, says that the Kewaskum Theatre began operating on March 26 that year, but that the formal opening was delayed until April 9 due to the Lenten season. This item also confirms Urban Peacock as the sole architect of the theater.

Silicon Sam
Silicon Sam on December 23, 2009 at 4:33 am

Building still there, looks like a Tattoo parlor now in it’s place. The marquee is long gone, but the front entry way and facade looks unchanged. 1223 Fond Du Lac Ave.

In the same building, off to the side of the old theater is an Auto shop, seen here:

http://www.autobodydynamics.net/

Silicon Sam
Silicon Sam on December 23, 2009 at 4:35 am

The Auto Shop is where Hansen’s was in the old photo posted in the opening description.

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