Cameo Theatre

620 56th Street,
Kenosha, WI 53140

Unfavorite 1 person favorited this theater

Cameo Theatre, Kenosha, WI

Viewing: Photo | Street View

A tiny downtown showplace with a checkered on-again-off-again history. In 1915 Walter M. Burke purchased a tract of land from the adjacent Bain Wagon works and built the still-standing Burke Building (the namestone still graces the upper floors). The narrow, low first floor was equipped for motion pictures and was named the Burke Theatre. William Meyer was the first manager. Two years or so later, Burke disposed of his interests to a theatrical firm from Joplin, Missouri, which in turn sold it to Mr. and Mrs. Charles Mantkus, who operated it for some time until Charles Collins took it over, and eventualy the Kenosha Orpheum Theatre Company held the lease until the mid-1930s when Manning Silverman acquired the theatre. In 1925 a fire damaged the Burke Building, and the theatre was renamed the Cameo Theatre.

In about 1933 the Cameo Theatre was again remodeled (including the installation of sound equipment) after some years of being dark through the early Great Depression, and Don F. Cross assumed its management. In the early-1940’s, Standard Theatres took over the Cameo Theatre, and then there was a brief period wen it was called the Ken-Gay Theatre (for the nearby Kenosha and Gateway Theatres) when it played features right out of first-run release at those two theatres.

It became the Lathrop Appliance Store in the mid-1940s, but its triangular-shaped marquee still briefly shelters passersby along busy 56th Street.

Contributed by Louis Rugani

Recent comments (view all 12 comments)

LouisRugani
LouisRugani on February 8, 2009 at 4:26 am

Appleton Post Crescent, October 21, 1925: CHIEF HURT IN KENOSHA
$60,000 THEATRE BLAZE
Kenosha â€"</P)â€" Fire which broke out in the boiler room of the Burke
Theatre early Wednesday caused damages amounting to about $60,000. The building was completely gutted. In addition to the theatre a dozen offices above it were burned by the blaze. Chief John Schwartz was injured while fighting the fire when he fell down a rear stairway obscured by thick smoke.

LouisRugani
LouisRugani on February 25, 2010 at 3:43 pm

Here is a spreadsheet with some early-1940s day-by-day bookings and other data at the then-CHIEF Theatre: View link

LouisRugani
LouisRugani on August 11, 2010 at 3:12 pm

(August 11, 1921) Theater managers and owners of Kenosha held an important meeting on Tuesday evening in the offices of Dayton Brothers in the Dale Building and organised the Kenosha Theater Managers' association. Representatives of every theater in Kenosha were present at this meeting and became members of the new organization the purpose of which is to secure closer co-operation between the theaters on matters which require joint action. (Note: The Burke Theatre was next door to the Dale Building.)

mikechopragant
mikechopragant on January 7, 2011 at 9:32 am

My essay on the some of the films shown in this cinema in 1941 has now been published and can be found at:
View link

LouisRugani
LouisRugani on January 8, 2011 at 11:01 am

Mike, thank you for that great and most-welcome essay on Kenosha’s long-forgotten CHIEF Theatre. I’ve posted a current photo of the CHIEF (nee BURKE/CAMEO) in the Wisconsin Theatres discussion group www.onelist.com/group/WisconsinTheatres .

LouisRugani
LouisRugani on April 27, 2011 at 4:04 pm

THIEF LIKES PICTURES OF HOLLYWOOD STARS
(November 15, 1934)
Kenosha, Wis. – An enthusiastic movie fan, who is collecting pictures of his movie stars, may be interrupted by a jail sentence if police catch him. The manager of the Cameo theater reports that almost every morning after he puts up new pictures in the display cases in front of his theater someone takes some of the photos. He asked the police to help catch the thief.

LouRugani
LouRugani on October 4, 2011 at 4:21 pm

(MOTION PICTURE, November 22, 1913) Kenosha, Wis.: Walter M. Burke and M. J. Isermann have invited bids for the purpose of building a theater, store and oilier building on Market square.

LouRugani
LouRugani on April 25, 2013 at 4:20 pm

The theatre was the BURKE between 1914 and 1925 and was renamed the CAMEO after the 1925 fire, then closed again in 1928. In 1934 it reopened as the CAMEO, then after 1937 it seems to have periodically opened and closed as the CAMEO, CHIEF and KEN before finally closing in 1945.

LouRugani
LouRugani on February 25, 2014 at 8:29 pm

(Film Daily, May 12, 1936) The CAMEO Theater, opened recently by Standard Theater Co., and operated for several weeks as a first-run, is again dark.

LouRugani
LouRugani on April 29, 2014 at 2:08 pm

The architect was G. H. Pridmore of 35 West Dearborn Street, Chicago.

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment

Subscribe Want to be emailed when a new comment is posted about this theater?
Just login to your account and subscribe to this theater