Uptown Theatre

1430 Washington Avenue,
Racine, WI 53403

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Uptown Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Opened as the Majestic Theatre on May 2, 1928 with William Boyd in “Dress Parade”. The theatre was later renamed the Uptown Theatre. The building, which currently stands vacant in a deteriorated state, was listed to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

Contributed by Ross Melnick, Sean Doerr, CharlesVanBibber

Recent comments (view all 49 comments)

MissKaye
MissKaye on June 6, 2009 at 5:42 pm

Does anyone have any information about who I can contact to gain access to the theater for some photographs? I’m a freelance photographer and I’ve been fascinated with this theater ever since my Father showed it to me when I was 10. (The lower level was a thrift store at that point.)

I would happily schedule an appointment with the owner/tenants to capture the essence of this elegant piece of history; permission pending of course. Please let me know!

Thanks in advance,
Megan Kaye of Racine, Wisconsin

MPol
MPol on July 19, 2009 at 8:22 am

Too bad about what happened. It was clearly a beautiful theatre.

carolgrau
carolgrau on November 24, 2009 at 7:03 pm

How could anyone let this happen to such a one time beauty. Damn shame is what it is. My Dad had two theatres that had apartments in them. In fact the one the projection booth was in the kitchen. The tennants got mad because they could not have company over for dinner on movie night.

trailer63
trailer63 on September 6, 2010 at 10:20 am

I used to live in Racine – for most of my life, in fact. I worked at the Avenue Frame Shop for a short time. The checkout counter where I worked, and incidentally, started the contents of the wastebasket on fire, was the old ticket booth. Back then, I was more selfish than I am today, and so, though I noted the unusual checkout counter, I didn’t care to investigate further the unique history of the building.

About twenty years later, I went into the Majestic to pick over the treasures at the junk store then inhabiting the building. The ticket booth was gone; the quaint, historical ambience permeating the Avenue Frame Shop when I worked there had since been bludgeoned by weak lighting, neglect, and mountains of black garbage bags bulging with moldy, cast-off crap.

I tried to ignore the blight as I puttered down the theatre promenade toward its lobby, in search of the rare find. But something about the promenade refused to be ignored. The plastered walls, the architectural details, even the floor itself, tugged at the hand of my inner being like an insistent child eager to deliver an important message.

I confess I felt a quickening in my spirit. I was compelled to pass through the darkness of the ancient promenade and into the lobby itself, no longer in search of a piece of 1960s flower-power memorabilia, but in search of something else, something I couldn’t quite touch…or, possibly, hear.

In the lobby, I was astounded by the presence of plaster cherub faces. Why had I not seen these twenty years ago? I stared at one neglected face then another and another, unwilling to look away and, thereby, break the spell cast by their historical relevance.

It was there, standing in the lobby as the object of the sad cherub gazes, I heard the deep call of the Majestic. I immediately answered, and all of that aged elegance and potential for rebirth swirled through my inner being like a wild-hair dream that was meant to come true.

Later, I told my sister I had heard the theatre call to me. Did she laugh? Perhaps.

The pictures posted on Flickr by unfogged eyes opens the floodgate of memory. In my mind’s eye, I am in the lobby once again, listening to the voice of the Majestic, and now contemplating the unfolding of God’s providence.

Matt Lambros
Matt Lambros on October 4, 2012 at 6:44 am

I recently photographed the Uptown Theatre check out the post at After the Final Curtain

BobbyS
BobbyS on August 8, 2014 at 10:06 pm

I went to Fred Herme’s basement theater today and they talked about the Uptown theater still standing. We went looking for it. Not only did we find it, we went right in. Stage door wide open. Some work was done like a new circuit breaker and some wiring and new cement stairs in the rear. Amazing a work light was lit on the main floor and sunlight streaming through cracks where one could see the entire auditorium. A Beauty. Orginal drapes hang above the stage. Plenty of plaster on the floor. As we were leaving I noticed a calendar on the stage back wall. It was marked March, 1994. What year did the people that were trying to restore this theater just walk away and not even lock the door? Some of the tools were left behind.

LouRugani
LouRugani on October 8, 2017 at 9:18 am

(Racine Journal Times, October 8, 2017) – The Uptown Racine neighborhood has struggled to maintain business, but a new proposal in the 2018 capital improvement plan might breathe some life into the neighborhood. The proposal is looking to turn the old Uptown theater into a performing arts center and it asks for $75,000 to perform a feasibility study and $50,000 to perform market analysis in 2019. That money would get taken out of the intergovernmental revenue sharing fund. The proposal also included $10 million to be used in 2021 for property purchase and construction. The city would use $5 million of the TID bond and $5 million from private development to fund the project.

Racine City Administrator Jim Palenick said it could make a huge difference in the area if the theater on the 1400 block of Washington Avenue was revitalized. “If the city can come forward with a very strong start to this project, can the private sector make this happen,” adding the city has had discussions with people in Uptown and thinks that this project can “create some vision and get something done on a pretty solid plan that’s been out there for a while.”

Sandy Weidner, mayoral candidate, said the plan “doesn’t sound like a bad idea to me at all, but I’d like to know more about it. I do think it would be a good thing, but I would need to hear more from the director of city development on what the expectation is from the feasibility study and market analysis. I’d also like to know if we’d done one in the past.” Weidner said on taking the money out of the intergovernmental revenue sharing fund: “that’s going to depend on the health of that particular fund to know if we could take $125,000 out of there. There’s a lot of other commitments being proposed to come out of the intergovernmental fund.”

State Rep. Cory Mason, mayoral candidate, also echoed the same sentiments about wanting to know more about the project. “I think Uptown needs something transformative to help bring it back … revitalizing Uptown has been a priority for the city and should be a priority for the next mayor,” Mason said. “Whether or not this project is the best way to revitalize Uptown is still unclear to me… I’d like to hear what the community has to say about it.”

Mason said it’s very early in the process for this project and would like to have more input from different members of the community. “I think a mistake that was made with the arena was there wasn’t enough done to gauge community support for the project,” Mason said. “For me the first thing I want to do is gauge not just the feasibility of a project like that, but also the community support for it.”

Yesenia Alashi, manager at Furniture Warehouse, 1510 Washington Ave., said anything new to the area would be an improvement. “This area is pretty dead now … a lot of stores have closed down or they don’t have a lot going on in this uptown area. It would be nice to get something newer something fresh in this area. It might boost this area a little bit more, especially a theater.”

rivest266
rivest266 on November 14, 2017 at 3:50 pm

There was quite a big building boom from April 7th-May 4th, 1928. Allen and Granada on April 7th, Venetian on April 12th and the Uptown on May 2nd, 1928. That makes 4 theatres in less than a month.

rivest266
rivest266 on November 14, 2017 at 3:56 pm

Full page ad in the photo section and below

Found on Newspapers.com

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