West Bend Cinema Brewhaus

125 N. Main Street,
West Bend, WI 53095

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West Bend Cinema Brewhaus

The West Bend Theatre opened in 1929. It was later twinned and was triplexed around 1992. There are now two theaters on the main floor, and the balcony, which is still largely intact, serves as the third auditorium. The two main floor theatres are fairly narrow but the balcony sports at least a 35-foot-wide screen. By early-2016 it had ceased screening movies and was presenting live performances only.

Contributed by Mark Gulbrandsen

Recent comments (view all 24 comments)

BobSchermacher
BobSchermacher on February 22, 2011 at 2:53 pm

After many years away, working in Corporate Video Production, I have returned to my birth state of WI (Plymouth) and am not far from the old West Bend Theater. I was projectionist there from 1978-81.

Can anyone post if they know the most recent state of affairs with the building. Was the Live Brewhaus venue successful? The link to Nova Cinemas is not working. Thank you.

Jason Fox
Jason Fox on June 4, 2011 at 10:43 pm

According to the December 21, 1929 issue of Exhibitors Herald-World, the West Bend Theatre was designed by A.S. Graven, Inc.

petensue
petensue on August 2, 2011 at 5:57 pm

I talked to my mom and she said the Mermac used to be in the Washington Hotel building that is still on 6th street,but they must have renumbered the addresses. They used to call it the cowboy theater because they went there to see all the old cowboy movies! They redid the store front. The box office used to be right in front. My dad worked there as well as the West Bend Theater! It is now for sale for $198,000! Maybe lower!

petensue
petensue on August 28, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Walked by the old Mermac Theater today with parents. The entrance now leads to several different rooms, but they haven’t done much with the place according to the guy that was sitting on the stoop outside. There’s a small alley way with a door on the south side of the building which my dad said led to the projection room. The price for the West Bend theatre is listed on the marquee outside and above the main doors!

Trolleyguy
Trolleyguy on April 8, 2016 at 2:54 pm

No longer showing movies. Live entertainment venue only.

LouRugani
LouRugani on January 25, 2017 at 9:59 pm

Two competing plans have surfaced with interest in the historic vacant WEST BEND Theatre. The preservationists are with the nonprofit Historic West Bend Theatre, trying to convince city officials and others about its plans to renovate the theatre as a venue for concerts, dance recitals and weddings seating around 400 people, said Scott Georgeson, HWBT’s project architect who operates Orchestra Design Studio in Milwaukee. The renovated WEST BEND Theatre would preserve the building’s stage, he said, with movable seating that would allow for both live performances as well as weddings and other banquet-style events. That flexibility would keep the venue as active as possible and create more opportunities to earn revenue for the building’s operator, he said.

Historic West Bend Theatre is led by Lisa Rowe, an associate lecturer of communications-theater arts at University of Wisconsin-Washington County in West Bend. HWBT was organized in Spring of 2016 and needs to raise an estimated $1 million to $2 million for its proposal, Georgeson said.

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Meanwhile, others want to demolish the WEST BEND Theatre while preserving the façade (including the marquee) as an entry into a new park and outdoor amphitheater on the former auditorium footprint, and that group claims it’s nearly raised the $700,000 it says is needed for that project. Mike Husar is leading the effort; he’s an owner of Husar’s House of Fine Diamonds next door to the WEST BEND Theatre, which opened in 1929, ended films about 10 years ago, then was sold to Ascendant Holdings LLC, a real estate development and investment group co-owned by West Bend native Matthew Prescott.

Husar claims the park/amphitheater project would bring more life to downtown and cost less than reusing the theatre. Milwaukee-based Zimmerman Architectural Studios Inc. is involved in the Husar group which Husar said has been working on the park/amphitheater plan for about a year.

The WEST BEND Theatre’s owner is avoiding the public controversy. “I don’t think we prefer a certain proposal,” said a representative of building owner Ascendant Holdings. “The important thing to us is that its next owner has a good long-term plan that they can actually follow through on and benefit the entire downtown area.”

LouRugani
LouRugani on July 19, 2017 at 3:32 pm

Historic West Bend Theatre, Inc. purchased the 88-year-old WEST BEND Theatre this week for $250,000 from Ascendant Holdings LLC. HWBT has launched a campaign with the goal of raising $1.5 million to $3 million to renovate the theater next year.

John Torinus, the group’s spokesperson and chairman of Serigraph Inc. said plans to gut all but the building’s facade were met with opposition from the West Bend community. “The town sort of rose up and said, ‘No, you can’t take down the theater — that’s where I had my first date. That’s where I had my first kiss. It really was palpable.”

Ascendant Holdings, LLC bought the building in 2012 for $100,000, according to state records. Its founder Matt Prescott, a West Bend native, stabilized the property and has readied it for reuse, Torinus said.

Torinus said HWBT envisions the restored theatre hosting showings of classic movies, matinee showings for children, musical performances, comedy acts, corporate events and weddings. “It will be a community, all-purpose facility,” he said. HWBT has brought on Scott Georgeson, an architect whose portfolio includes restoration work on the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Skylight Opera Theater and Schauer Arts & Activity Center in Hartford.

Torinus said HWBT is raising money through the rest of 2017 with construction anticipated to begin in early 2018 and a goal to have it completed in 2018, he said. “So far we’ve had nothing but good reception from the community and potential donors,” he said.

OldTimer_Projectionist
OldTimer_Projectionist on September 16, 2017 at 7:31 am

I was the projectionist old theater from 1967 till I was drafted to the US Army in 1969. At that time it was just one screen with old projection booth at the high upper level above and behind the upper balcony. One reel lasted about 15 to 18 minutes, then I would chance over to another projector for the next reel. Carbon Arc provide the light. Most movies averaged about 5 to 6 reels. The movie Ten Commandments and Grand Prix, to name a few, had 10 reels with intermissions. Some of the other movies that I ran were, Bonnie and Clyde, A Man For All Seasons, Cool Hand Luke, Valley Of the Dolls. Elvis Presley movies, Clam Bake, Viva Las Vegas and Riverboat Show. All of which were first run movies at that time. I enjoyed the job until Uncle Sam required my services in the Viet Nam Theater in 1970 to 1971. I often think of those times at the old theater.

vetsphynx
vetsphynx on November 15, 2017 at 4:41 pm

I know this is a far stretch here, but I am doing a project on historic downtown West Bend buildings,and the theater sticks out as one of the most iconic for West Bend. If anyone has stories about the history of the theater, I would love to hear them. My email is . Thank you in advance!

LouRugani
LouRugani on May 2, 2019 at 4:03 pm

The plan to restore the WEST BEND Theatre has been in the works since 2017, when nonprofit group Historic West Bend Theatre, Inc. purchased the building for $250,000 and went public with a capital campaign for the project. The project will include a new heating and ventilating system, new roof, revamped electrical and plumbing systems, new sound and video equipment, IT systems, new restrooms, an enlarged stage, new seating on the main floor and balcony and the addition of an art deco-style bar. The 600-seat theater opened in downtown West Bend in 1929 and showed films until it closed in 2006. The renovated building will include 120 seats on the main floor and 200 in the balcony. Previous proposals to gut all but the building’s facade were met with opposition from the West Bend community. The West Bend Theatre vertical sign has been removed for restoration. “This is a very rare event that takes place, where an entire city and town can come together and recreate history,” said Nic Novaczyk, president of HWBT, at the groundbreaking ceremony. “This has been an identifying mark for West Bend for decades and decades and decades. It’s just been such a joy and privilege to watch it in its early stages start to come back to life. And I think over the next six, eight, nine months of construction, we’re really going to see something special.” HWBT has raised about $2.1 million from private sources, including West Bend Mutual Insurance, National Exchange Bank & Trust, area foundations and individual donors. The organization has also submitted applications for about $1.1 million in tax credits and other grants. The group will continue fundraising throughout the year. HWBT organizers envision the restored theater serving as an all-purpose community facility, hosting showings of classic movies, musical performances, comedy acts, corporate events and weddings. “It’s multi-purpose; we want it to do all kinds of things,” said John Torinus, a HWBT board member and chairman of Serigraph Inc. “We want the public to feel they own this theater. We want it full five or six days a week.” HWBT initially expected the restoration work to take a year to complete, but the group said it could move more quickly than for completion by the end of 2019. MSI General is the general contractor for the project. Sub-contractors include Steiner Electric, Albiero Plumbing and Affordable Environmental Technologies. HWBT’s board also plans to hire an executive director in June. Until now, HWBT has been a volunteer effort, led by the group’s 18-person board.

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