Myers Theater

118 E. Milwaukee Street,
Janesville, WI 53545

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 11, 2014 at 10:18 pm

A list of theaters designed or remodeled by the Milwaukee architectural firm Dick & Bauer, published in December, 1929, included the Myers Theatre in Janesville among their remodeling jobs. This must have been the remodeling done earlier that year for James Zanias.

landonj on February 16, 2012 at 12:33 pm

Louis Rugani In your article about James Zanias, you mention the confectionery store being bought by the Homsey brothers. That would be Louis and George Homsey. Louis was my grandfather and I am looking for any information on him. I am currently transcribing letter he saved from his relative in Janesville, while he was in the Great War (WWI). Anything you could do to point me in a proper research direction, I would appreciate. Thank you Jeannette.

LouisRugani on October 7, 2010 at 7:55 am

(Janesville Daily Gazette, October 6, 1951)


James Zanias, 72, Janesville businessman since 1908 and coproprietor of Central cafe, was found dead in bed in his room at 203 Center avenue at noon Saturday. Mr. Zanias had worked Thursday and returned to his room at midnight. While he had not complained of being ill, Mr. Zanias had suffered with a heart ailment for several years. He had planned to return to his native Greece in January to visit relatives.
Having learned something of the confectionery business in Chicago Mr. Zanias took his first job in Janesville with the Candy Kitchen, now Homsey’s, when he located here in 1906. Two years later he purchased a part interest in the business, Gus Vlachos being his partner.

Pioneer in Theatre Field

The two men became interested in the new entertainment medium motion pictures and in 1908 they opened the Lyric theatre, a 5 and 10 cent show at 113 W. Milwaukee street. Business was so profitable that Mr. Zanias purchased the Nickelodeon theatre at 210 W. Milwaukee street in 1909. By 1911 Mr. Zanias had bought out his partner’s interest and sold the confectionery store to the Homsey brothers.
Expanding his theatrical enterprises Mr. Zanias became manager of the new Apollo theatre, which in 1913 opened as a vaudeville house which also played stock companies. He operated the Apollo until 1926 when it was sold to Saxe Brothers of Milwaukee. For a short time Mr. Zanias managed the Apollo and Jeffris theatres for the Saxe company and in 1927 he resigned and went to Europe where he spent a year with his mother and sister in Greece.

Operated Myers Till 1939

Upon returning to Janesville Mr. Zanias leased the Myers theatre which he remodeled and opened on Dec. 27, 1929. He operated the Myers until 1939 when he suffered a heart attack that necessitated his being hospitalized for several months.
On June 1, 1940 Mr. Zanias and his cousin William Mihos purchased the Central cafe, 117 W. Milwaukee street.
A native of Eupalion, a village in the northwest part of Greece, Mr. Zanias attended school until he was 14 when he took a job in his uncle’s dry goods store in Massalongi, 53 miles west of hls native village. For three years he worked for his uncle and then took a job with a commission firm. Six years later he came to the United States locating first in Chicago.

Always Public Spirited

James Zanias was a public spirited citizen who gave generously to community projects and enthusiastically endorsed welfare and social programs to aid the needy here and abroad. In his love for his adopted country he never lost sight of the plight of the Greek people. Mr. Zanias headed the Janesville committee that raised funds for Greek relief and was a leader to Hellenic organizations. His friends in all walks of life were legion for he had a genial manner and the gift of understanding the problems of those who came to him in need. His boundless enthusiasm for what ever he undertook was an inspiration to those with whom he came in contact.
Surviving are cousins in the States and four nephews living in Greece. The body is at the Ryan funeral home.

(Wisconsin Theatres discussions and photos:

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 12, 2010 at 3:49 am

I’ve yet to find a University library with a user-friendly web site, but you can find the photos of the Myers by going to the UW library’s Digital Collections page, then putting Myers Theater (that spelling exactly) in the search box.

It’s possible to right click on any given size of a photo there and copy the link address, then paste that here (thus), but then those who click on the link here won’t get the data page with all the details about the photo, just the photo itself. Also I don’t know how long the resulting link will last.

Silicon Sam
Silicon Sam on September 11, 2010 at 11:48 pm

Got any working picture links???

edwilke on September 11, 2010 at 7:18 pm

Myers Theater, rear view, 1970

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edwilke on September 11, 2010 at 7:02 pm

Photo one hour before demo…

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edwilke on September 11, 2010 at 6:59 pm

Early 1970’s photo of the back of the Myers.

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edwilke on September 11, 2010 at 6:57 pm

Myers demo photos… It’s a set of 10.

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edwilke on September 11, 2010 at 6:53 pm

Late 1970’s photo of the Myers.

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Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on September 11, 2010 at 6:43 pm

Joe you are right about BOXOFFICE.I have used old issues for several theatres I have put on CT only to be told this is a wrong date or that movie wasn’t shown in 70mm.And so on. I know when I worked for GCC i would often send items in,some would get printed,some would not.Most of us theatre managers did not have Journalism Degrees.LOL.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 11, 2010 at 5:31 pm

Boxoffice was not always reliable in reporting dates of events in the distant past. The weekly magazine’s news items from most places relied on local theater operators or managers, film distributors who traveled the territory, and often on local newspaper reports which were themselves sometimes hastily written. Contemporary newspaper reports from the time and place of an event are better sources for information, but unfortunately very few of these are yet available on the Internet.

Here is a pdf file of the obituary of Oscar Cobb from the July, 1908, Quarterly Bulletin of the AIA. It says that he was from Maine and only arrived in Chicago in 1871. It’s rather sketchy about his career prior to his arrival in Chicago, but does say that began building theaters “about 1875” so it’s probably safe to rule him out as the architect of the original 1870 Myers Opera House.

edwilke on September 11, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Not sure if Oscar Cobb was the original architect. I found a book at the local library that said he restored the Myers in 1891. The Myers was built in 1870. Not sure yet, I’m just getting back into researching in my new area of southern Wisconsin. Based in Beloit Wis. now…

LouisRugani on August 13, 2010 at 5:03 pm

Janesville Gazette, June 30, 1969)
Smoke Brings Evacuation of Theater

About 70 patrons at the Myers Theater Saturday night had to be evacuated from the building when an employe smelled smoke.
Janesville firemen were called to the scene and discovered an overheated thermostat caused a fire in the popcorn machine. Damage to the machine was minor, but the interior of the building was filled with smoke, firemen said. The patrons exited in an orderly manner when asked to leave the theater, firemen added. The incident occurred about 8:30 p.m.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 14, 2009 at 3:13 am

The “Related Website” link above is dead.

An item about the Myers Theatre in Boxoffice, November 2, 1957, said that the original Myers Opera House of 1870 had burned in 1889, two years after a complete remodeling, and the theater standing in 1957 was the replacement that had been built in 1889.

This book at Google Books has a 1908 obituary of the architect of the Myers Theatre, Oscar Cobb (put his name in the search box on the left side of the page and click Go.) It says that he designed about 200 theaters, and gives the names of a dozen or so.

kencmcintyre on July 21, 2009 at 5:37 pm

Here is a February 1924 article from the Janesville Daily Gazette:


Theater robbers lost out again Sunday night in their second attempt in two weeks in Janesville, when the box office of the Myers theater was entered between 5:15 and 6 p.m. and a flash-light stolen. Had it not been for precautions taken by the ticket seller, Ray Cullen, the intruders might have been $200 to $300 to the good, but Cullen took the money with him when he went to lunch. Entrance was gained through a rear exit and the door into the box office was broken open. Two weeks ago, yeggmen cracked the safe at the Beverly theater but got nothing, as the week-end receipts had been deposited in another safe.