Virginian Theatre

611-17 58th Street,
Kenosha, WI 53140

Unfavorite 1 person favorited this theater

Additional Info

Functions: Retail

Previous Names: Bijou Theatre, Princess Theatre

Nearby Theaters

VIRGINIAN Theatre; Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The Bijou Theatre was converted from existing retail space in the Young America Building, opening on January 14, 1905 with continuous vaudeville. On September 15, 1913 it was renamed Princess Theatre and was playing live vaudeville and Kinemacolor films. It was closed in May of 1914. On September 24, 1914 it reopened as the Virginian Theatre, again presenting vaudeville and movies. My father said that he was in the audience during a demonstration of radio reception, the novelty of which stunned those present.

It closed on October 30, 1922 when the nearby Orpheum Theatre opened and became a soda fountain. Later returned to retail space as the Leader Store, long a popular clothing and fabric shop (the small balcony held the yard goods department.) The stage is still obvious although there’s no proscenium, and also is used to display merchandise. (The Leader Store closed in the 1990’s and the building was then used as an antiques shop.)

Contributed by Louis Rugani

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

LouisRugani
LouisRugani on November 28, 2007 at 10:29 am

Further research shows that the Virginian Theatre was built of frame construction in 1870 with two storefronts at street level and a hall upstairs, as was common in assembly halls of the period. At some point around 1905, a Frank O'Brien remodeled the building to combine the storefronts into a 600-seat ground-level theatre and naming the revamped showplace the Bijou, which would close its doors around early 1913. In that eight-or-so-year window, films and live acts had been featured for an admission price of 10 to 20 cents.

Within six months, the theatre was renamed the Princess and soon, ticket prices dropped to five cents, probably because of direct comptition from nearby theatres including the Majestic.

By 1915, the theatre was renamed the Virginian Theatre, and it was under the direction of Al Meis, who instituted a more aggressive show policy including live all-girl chorus lines. But as competition increased from seven nearby theatres including the ornate new 1922 Orpheum (qv) a half-block east, the Virginian Theatre closed for good at the time the Orpheum opened, and the building reverted to retail space, a role which continues today.

LouRugani
LouRugani on November 6, 2015 at 9:35 pm

Fuller’s Orchestra (piano, banjo, saxophone and drums) was the musical ensemble. Helena Stemm accompanied film programs.

LouRugani
LouRugani on November 6, 2015 at 10:35 pm

September 9, 1922: EXHIBITORS TRADE REVIEW

The added matinee, not a regular feature of the house and some of the poster work responsible for the turnout.

Plays Extended Engagement on a Third Run – Campaign Results in First Capacity Houses in Months

The Virginian Theatre, Kenosha, Wis., played to capacity for three days and in response to popular enthusiasm held the show over for a fourth, as a result of a campaign complete in every detail of modern exploitation methods.

The efficacy of the campaign may be judged from the fact that the Virginian hung out its S. R. 0. sign for the first time during the summer on the opening night of a icture that was playing its third run in the town.

The feature attraction was “The Sheik;” the campaign was carried out by Mrs. Lillian Collins, who directs the Virginian, with the assistance of R. C. Gary, Paramount exploiteer.

The campaign opened with teaser ads run for two days in the Milwaukee Journal. These read: Girls take notice Rudolph is coming! Romance will be found here next when you see Rudolph make love to Agnes. And on the second day the ads announced the play dates of “The Sheik” at the Virginian. The newspaper, which has wide distribution in Kenosha, printed a reading notice.

SPECIAL MATINEE, WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON Rodolph Valentino IN “THE SHEIK” A Paramount Picture

The Paramount exploiteer then started to concentrate on the people of the town. He obtained the privilege of posting signs on the window of a hotel on the main street. These announced that on the opening night autographed photographs of Valentino would be given free to the ladies attending.

The next inducement offered was a booklet entitled “What I Know About Women” by Rudolph Valentino. This offer was for the second night. Shortly after the posters announcing this latter gift were displayed, the theatre began receiving telephone calls for the booklet and it was estimated that over 300 requests of this nature had been received over the telephone before the evening performance. The booklets were enclosed in an envelope stamped “For Married People Only.” The booklet was about two inches square when folded. On the front cover was the title “What I Know About Women” and on the back the name of the theatre. Inside were two clean, white, blank pages. PEOPLE OF KENOSHA— GREETINGS FROM RODOLPH VALENTINO PRICES 25 & 10 WESTERN UNION TELEGRAM Hollywood Calif July 23 1922

Mrs Lillian K Collins Manager Virginian Theatre
Kenosha Wis

Believe The Sheik to be one of my best picturee Stop Hope my Kenosha friends like my photograps stop hope to have the pleasure of spending a day at Kenosha this fall 3 with best wishes RODOLPH VALENTINO

FreeTonight 1000 booklets “What I Know About Women,” by Rodolph Valentino

DEAR PATRONS:—

We endorse this picture to be a great and unusual production and evidences the remarkable ability of Rodulph Valentino “The Screen’s Greatest Lover” and popular celebrity. Manager— VIRGINIAN THEATRE

LAST TIMES TONIGHT

Kenosha Folks Captured and Carried Away ASK YOUR FRIENDS — THEY SAW IT. That’s what happened to the countless hundreds who saw RODOLPH VALENTINO “The Screen’s Greatest Lover” IN “THE SHEIK” A PARAMOUNT SPECIAL.

NOTE: — This is the last time this screen sensation will be shown in Kenosha. IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT — DON’T MISS IT!

“WHAT I KNOW ABOUT WOMEN” By Rodolph Valentino This Booklet Given Free to the First 1,000 Ladies Attending the Virginian Tonight ^-Come Early and Get Yours.

Two-column ads were liberally used for a week previous and during the run of the picture.

LouRugani
LouRugani on May 19, 2016 at 3:23 pm

BURKE TO LEASE VIRGINIAN THEATRE – Deal Is Now Under Way Whereby Collins Theatrical Enterprise Will Lease Virginian (Kenosha Evening News, Friday, January 28, 1921)

The Collins Theatrical Enterprise, owners/managers of the Burke Theatre, announced plans to lease the Virginian from the Virginian Theatre Company. The Virginian had offered vaudeville four days each week for years, and Collins said it had no plans to change the format.

LouRugani
LouRugani on January 29, 2021 at 2:10 pm

THEATRE DEAL IS NOW CLOSED — Virginian Theatre Leased by Collins Theatrical Enterprises — EXPLAINS NEW PLANS — Virginian to Continue to Be the Home of Vaudeville and Also Super Film Attractions — The merger of the management of the Virginian and Burke Theatres was completed on Friday evening when a lease for the Virginian Theatre was secured by the Collins Theatrical Enterprise as anticipated in the unofficial announcement made on Friday. The lease was sealed, signed and delivered on Friday afternoon just after four-thirty, and the new management is to take control of the theatre on the first of February. The lease provides an option for the purchase of the property should this be desired at a later date. For the present, Manager Fred Dayton will remain in charge of the theatre until the new management becomes acquainted with the operation of the theatre. — Reflects Success of Past — The expansion of the theatre holdings of the Collins Theatrical Enterprise reflects the success which they have achieved in the management of the Burke Theatre on Market Square. The members of the company are Mrs. Lillian K. Collins, who in the near future will take personal charge of the Virginian; Charles Collins and Marvin B. Kincaid, all three of whom will be associated in the management of the two theatres.. It is planned to continue the Virginian theatre as the home of high class vaudeville in Kenosha. As in the past, vaudeville will be staged there on the last three days of the week and on Sunday with an entire new bill for each Sunday program. The merger of the theatre with the Burke will also make it possible to supplement these shows with high class film attractions whenever this is advisable. — Daytons Explain Future Plans — Edward and Fred Dayton, who for the past eleven months have been successful in the management of the Virginian Theatre, have sold out their interest to the Virginian Theatre Company, which organization leased the property to the new holder. The Dayton brothers plan to devote their time to their growing insurance business, the extent of which made it necessary for them to withdraw from the theatrical management for the present. They have recently expanded their insurance business to such an extent that it requires the greater part of their time. The Virginian is also to be open each and every day as the new management plans to bring feature super-films here for the Monday Tuesday and Wednesday performances. The film contracts held by the Collins Theatrical Enterprise will enable them to present some of the latest and most attractive releases at this theatre. E. Z. Jones, Jr., who for the past six months has been in charge of the publicity for the Burke Theatre, will be placed in charge of the publicity work for the two show houses — Has Interesting History — The merger of the two theatres is an interesting chapter in the history of the Collins Theatrical Enterprise The company started several years ago when Mrs. Lillian K. Collins took over the ownership and control of the Burke Theatre. At that time Mr. Collins was a salesman for the J. P. Smith and company, large importers pf New York and Chicago, but in a few months the business of the Burke Theatre grew to such large dimensions that he resigned his position to aid in the management of it. The many friends of the Burke grew to such large numbers that they could not be accommodated at the one theatre and the Orpheum Theatre.

(Kenosha News, 29 Jan 1921, Sat • Page 1)

dallasmovietheaters
dallasmovietheaters on May 10, 2021 at 4:10 am

The 1870-built building was once the home of the Elks Club on its upper floors. The Bijou Theatre launched there on January 14, 1905 with continuous vaudeville. After several operator changes, Frank J. O'Brien took on the Bijou and relaunched it after a refresh as the Princess Theatre on September 15, 1913 with live vaudeville and two Kinemacolor films. He closed it in May of 1914 citing financial difficulties. Chicago operators took over the Princess relaunching it as the Virginian Theatre on September 24, 1914 with vaudeville and films.

Paramount films including “The Sheik” filled the crowds to capacity suggesting that the Virginian was too small to meet demand. The Virginian closed October 30, 1922 at the end of lease. The theatre equipment was auctioned off and stayed in place briefly when purchased by the Ke-Nash-A Club. When they moved out in 1923, the venue transitioned to a soda fountain.

LouRugani
LouRugani on June 8, 2021 at 3:56 pm

(Sat., Jan.29, 1921) - THEATRE DEAL IS NOW CLOSED - Virginian Theatre Leased by Collins Theatrical Enterprises - EXPLAINS NEW PLANS - Virginian to Continue to Be the Home of Vaudeville and Also Super Film Attractions —– The merger of the management of the Virginian and Burke Theatres was completed on Friday evening when a lease for the Virginian Theatre was secured by the Collins Theatrical Enterprise as anticipated in the unofficial announcement made on Friday. The lease was sealed, signed and delivered on Friday afternoon just after four-thirty and the new management is to take control of the theatre on the first of February. The lease provides an option for the purchase of the property, should this be desired at a later date. For the present, Manager Fred Dayton will remain in charge of the theatre until the new management becomes acquainted with the operation of the theatre.

Reflects Success of Past

The expansion of the theatre holdings of the Collins Theatrical Enterprise reflects the success which they have achieved in the management of the Burke Theatre on Market Square. The members of the company are Mrs. Lillian K. Collins, who in the near future will take personal charge of the Virginian; Charles Collins and Marvin B. Kincaid, all three of whom will be associated in the management of the two theatres. It is planned to continue the Virginian theatre as the home of high class vaudeville in Kenosha. As in the past, vaudeville will be staged there on the last three days of the week and on Sunday with an entire new bill for each Sunday program. The merger of the theatre with the Burke will also make it possible to supplement these shows with high class film attractions whenever this is advisable.

Daytons Explain Future Plans

Edward and Fred Dayton, who for the past eleven months have been successful in the management of the Virginian Theatre, have sold out their interest to the Virginian Theatre Company, which organization leased the property to the new holder. The Dayton brothers plan to devote their time to their growing insurance business, the extent of which made it necessary for them to withdraw from the theatrical management for the present. They have recently expanded their insurance business to such an extent that it requires the greater part of their time. The Virginian is also to be open each and every day as the new management plans to bring feature super-films here for the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday performances. The film contracts held by the Collins Theatrical Enterprise will enable them to present some of the latest and most attractive releases at this theatre. E. Z. Jones, Jr., who for the past six months has been in charge of the publicity for the Burke Theatre, will be placed in charge of the publicity work for the two show houses.

Has Interesting History

The merger of the two theatres is an interesting chapter in the history of the Collins Theatrical Enterprise. The company started several years ago when Mrs. Lillian K. Collins took over the ownership and control of the Burke Theatre. At that time Mr. Collins was a salesman for the J. P. Smith and Company, large importers pf New York and Chicago, but in a few months the business of the Burke Theatre grew to such large dimensions that he resigned his position to aid in the management of it. The many friends of the Burke grew to such large numbers that they could not be accommodated at the one theatre and the Orpheum Theatre on Market Street was leased, remodeled, and under the name of the Blue Mill operated very successfully by Marvin B.. Kincaid with the assistance of Mr. and Mrs. Collins.

Expected New Theatre Then for the first time in the history of the Blue Mill property, it became a successful movie shrine. Then the owners of the property came to Manager Kincaid and secured a release on the lease with the intimation that the property would be sold and a larger and finer theatre built on Main Street to be leased to the Collins Theatrical Enterprise. It was a great disappointment when this deal failed to materialize but the acquisition of the Virginian Theatre now marks the fulfilling of it in another way.

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.