620 56th Street,
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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 name-stone 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 eventually 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 when in July 1943 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 was closed in 1945.
It became the Lathrop Appliance Store in the mid-1940s, but its triangular-shaped marquee still briefly shelters passers-by along busy 56th Street.
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