Blue Mill Theatre

500-504 56th Street,
Kenosha, WI 53140

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Located on the northwest corner of Exchange Street (now Fifth Avenue) and Market Street (now 56th Street), Kenosha’s original Orpheum Theatre is long forgotten. It appears in photographs alongside the adjoining and far more famous original Rhode Opera House, and seems to be a frame building with a gabled roof, built at the start of the 20th century.

Charles Collins took it over in 1916 and renamed it the Blue Mill for the remaining two years of its operations, when it was demolished for the construction of the new Union Dye Works in 1918. The Union Dye Building was demolished in the 1970s and the property in 2005 is used for parking for the nearby Rhode Opera House (nee Gateway Theatre).

Contributed by Louis Rugani

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

MiltonSmith
MiltonSmith on September 12, 2007 at 7:56 pm

I think this property now is actually a public parking lot frequently used by patrons of the bar “Cooler By The Lake” as its adjacent to that establishment. Does anyone have any pictures of this building?

LouisRugani
LouisRugani on February 8, 2009 at 2:47 am

(Racine Journal-News, September 15, 1915) Arrested In Illinois: Harry G. Smith, Jr., who cut a wide swath in Kenosha some months ago as manager of the Orpheum theatre on East Market street and who left the city without any previous announcement and left a number of worthless checks behind him, has been arrested at Moline, Ill., on charges of grand larceny. The former Kenosha theatre manager surrendered himself to the police at Moline Friday and it is declared that he gave up when he found that the Moline officials were tightening a web of guilt about him. He is charged with stealing an automobile valued at three thousand dollars from T. F. Wharton. one of the officials of the Deere Harvesting company at Moline. The automobile was stolen on the night of Saturday, May 22. The machine was recovered at Farmington, Ill., some days late- and efforts had been made to repaint to prevent its being identified. Smith gave bonds of $1,500 following his arrest and he was held to the September grand jury.

LouisRugani
LouisRugani on September 23, 2010 at 12:14 pm

(Racine Journal-News, September 20, 1915)
Arrested In Illinois

Harry G. Smith, jr., who cut a wide swath in Kenosha some months ago as manager of the Orpheum theatre on East Market street and who left the city without any previous announcement and left a number of worthless checks behind him, has been arrested at Moline, Ill., on charges of grand larceny. The former Kenosha theatre manager surrendered himself to the police at Moline Friday and it is declared that he gave up when he found that the Moline officials were tightening a web of guilt about him. He is charged with stealing an automobile valued at three thousand dollars from T. F. Wharton, one of the officials of the Deere Harvesting company at Moline. The automobile was stolen on the night of Saturday, May 22. The machine was recovered at Farmington, Ill., some days later and efforts had been made to repaint to prevent its being identified. Smith gave bonds of $1,500 following his arrest and he was held to the September grand jury.

LouRugani
LouRugani on June 30, 2014 at 2:24 pm

(Motion Picture World, July-September 1911) Kenosha, Wis. — The Orpheum was damaged to the extent of $5,000 by fire. The fire started just after a crowd of people had left.

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