Uptown Theatre

1430 Washington Avenue,
Racine, WI 53403

Unfavorite 6 people favorited this theater

Uptown Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Opened as the Majestic Theatre on May 2, 1928, the theater 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 46 comments)

LouRugani on February 8, 2008 at 10:21 am

A couple of items for the record: the architecture is Gothic, a rather rare style amongst movie palaces; and the theatre had already been renamed the Uptown in the 1940s, long before its closure near New Years Day of 1959. Its manager then was a Mr. Gross or Groce, and at the Uptown’s closure he was immediately appointed to manage the Kenosha Theatre in Kenosha and when the Kenosha closed on April 21, 1963 he took over the Lake Theatre (formerly the Gateway, now the Rhode Opera House) three blocks north, all Standard Theatres chain houses.

There was a Preservation Racine tour of the Uptown in the fall of 1981 and restoration talk was flowing even then. Around that time some rock concerts were held in the auditorium, but patrons had to use a rear exit door as the lobbies were then occupied by the Avenue Frame Shop. That, by the way, was a longtime business (gone now) that attracted many “customers” who ostensibly were interested in picture-framing but who were actually there as curiosity-seekers to see what they could of the vestibules and lobbies.

kencmcintyre on July 19, 2008 at 9:32 pm

The marquee has been removed. I wasn’t sure if that had been mentioned yet.

mp775 on February 9, 2009 at 12:17 pm

Archived versions of the theater’s website can be found by searching for it at http://www.archive.org

MissKaye on June 6, 2009 at 8:42 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 on July 19, 2009 at 11:22 am

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

carolgrau on November 24, 2009 at 10:03 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 on September 6, 2010 at 1:20 pm

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 9:44 am

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

BobbyS on August 9, 2014 at 1:06 am

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.

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