Portage Theatres

322 W. Wisconsin Street,
Portage, WI 53901

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ncbooth on August 18, 2010 at 12:42 pm

While the newer portion of the building has the primary entrance, it is not the only one. The original lobby is still accessible, but only on weekends. For the past year it was open more often than that, and used as an entrance for the 3D features. Once a second 3D screen was added, that wasn’t necessary as they are on opposite ends of the theatre. Auditoriums one and six now have Dolby Digital 3D capabilities.

Other upgrades include new seating in auditorium two, and a larger, curved screen in one.

Trolleyguy on August 3, 2010 at 12:55 pm

Here is a picture of the annex building which now has the only public entrance to the theater. http://tinyurl.com/2e33pj8

And this is the original entrance which is no longer in use other than for maintenance and as an emergency exit.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 2, 2009 at 9:56 pm

I’ve found mentions of the Portage Theatre in Boxoffice Magazine as early as February 1, 1937, but it had been in operation for a decade by then. According to an architectural and historical survey of Portage, it was built by the Fischer-Paramount Theatre Company in 1927.

The trade journal Movie Age said in its issue of January 5, 1929, that Milwaukee theater man Leonard K. Brin had taken over eight Fischer-Paramount houses, including the Portage and Home Theatres in Portage.

I found a mention of a Brin Theatre in Portage in the March 16, 1929, issue of Movie Age, but I’ve also found mentions from the same period of a Brin’s Portage Theatre, and the Home Theatre and Portage Theatre operated by L.K. Brin, so it’s unclear whether or not there was a temporary name change at one or the other of the houses.

In any case, the Portage closed for a while early in the 1930s, until it was reopened by F.J. McWilliams.

The Portage was operated by McWilliams at least through the 1950s. One Boxoffice item mentioned that he had entered the exhibition business since 1907. He also operated the Home Theatre in Portage, as mentioned in various issues of Boxoffice from the late 1930s into the early 1950s. In 1952, McWilliams built the 15/61 Drive-In. Later the theaters were operated by Jack McWilliams, presumably F.J.’s son.

The historical survey I cited above said that the triplexing of the Portage Theatre took place in 1985.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on May 2, 2009 at 12:02 pm

Address: 322 West Wisconsin Street. Seating in 1955 was 750.

tmsenzig on December 5, 2006 at 6:40 pm

The owners of this theatre also owned the 51/16 Drive-In on US 51 southeast of Portage. The drive-in was closed and sold in 1982 to raise revenue for the rennovation of this theatre from one screen to three screens.

tmsenzig on October 10, 2006 at 9:57 am

Portage Theatres today is a fine modern place to see a movie. Though a far cry from ornate single screen movie house it was in its youth, it is very well kept and modern. It remains as a focal point of downtown portage, as it has for generations. Residents and visitors alike still line up to buy tickets to the latest features at this theatre, which boasts one of the finest digital sound systems in Wisconsin.