Uptown Theatre

1430 Washington Avenue,
Racine, WI 53403

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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.

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

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.

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.

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

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

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

mp775
mp775 on February 9, 2009 at 9:17 am

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

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on July 19, 2008 at 6:32 pm

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

LouRugani
LouRugani on February 8, 2008 at 7:21 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.

scook1888
scook1888 on August 2, 2007 at 5:20 pm

sorry its

scook1888
scook1888 on August 2, 2007 at 5:20 pm

I know a lot about this theater. I have worked in there and know its structure and interior real well. I would love to se this theater functional. Please e-mail me and I can share the info. I know along with memorabilia, etc. Sarah

MiltonSmith
MiltonSmith on February 15, 2007 at 7:16 pm

Wow, how sad. It looks like a theatre that was once a beautiful space and now a rundown mess. Its a miracle the city hasn’t condemned it yet. I’m sure it will only be a matter of time until it is. So many theatres in the area that could use the work, so little interest/money to do any of them.

Patsy
Patsy on January 7, 2007 at 10:42 am

Among the many photos posted on this link is the subway tile in one of the bathrooms which is used alot in many new homes so its always been ‘in style’ and continues to be so this theatre and that tile deserves to be restored in this Racine Wisconsin theatre.

Patsy
Patsy on January 7, 2007 at 10:38 am

Each time I visit this link I marvel over the artist’s rendition and love the beautiful murals so I hope that this theatre can be brought back with much TLC.

Patsy
Patsy on April 5, 2006 at 6:05 am

unfogged eyes: Thanks for the new Flickr pix. This once beautiful theatre should never been allowed to deteriorate to this extent!

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on March 8, 2006 at 1:51 pm

The place is pretty far gone already. Large wall sections have disintegrated down to the metal skeleton. I understand that it is possible to restore a building in this state of repair (the Detroit Symphony Hall is the example that has been related to me). But it is going to run into the millions to get the theatre functional on a basic level. I’d love to be proven wrong. But I have doubts that this project is going to come to pass. It seems to be lost in that cycle of people with big ideas coming and going year after year, punctuated by the occasional act of fraud (see Uptown Theatre, Chicago).

ERD
ERD on March 8, 2006 at 1:24 pm

Hope the Journal Times article may get some influencial people interested in the resotration of the Uptown/Majestic before it gets too late to be done.

Patsy
Patsy on March 8, 2006 at 12:12 pm

cbennett5: Glad to read that someone wants to write a story at the Uptown/Majestic so I hope that it will find its way to CT and this link, in time. Thanks.

cbennett5
cbennett5 on March 8, 2006 at 11:55 am

unfogged eyes, please contact me. I’m with The Journal Times in Racine and want to write about the Uptown.
Thanks.

unfoggedeyes
unfoggedeyes on March 4, 2006 at 7:32 am

I have maxed out the upload capacity on Flickr, so next month I will be adding the rest of the shots taken at the Theatre.

unfoggedeyes
unfoggedeyes on March 4, 2006 at 7:12 am

I honestly wouldn’t be shocked at all if they abandoned the website like they did the theatre. If I am not mistaken the “Official Website” was originally created by a man who had the theatre on land contract. I could be wrong but talking to the most current owners, they had nothing to do with it, and they have had legal possession for close to 20 years. So I am told. The building has been for sale and whatnot for years. Different business people come and go with big dreams for the building and get land contracts. So far all have failed to restore the theatre. One man even went as far as to hold a fundraiser for restoration, and as soon as the money was in his hands he left town. Legal actions were taken against him, but it is just sad that it had come down to that. People that live in the area have given up on the old girl for the most part. I guess after years and years of neglect and abuse, people have let go of the realistic dreams the theatre once had.

Patsy
Patsy on March 4, 2006 at 5:16 am

I’m still trying to bring up the official website for the Majestic, but am still having trouble.

Patsy
Patsy on March 4, 2006 at 5:12 am

unfogged: Thank you! Though some of the photos are dark I clicked on them all to enlarge and could see the mural photos rather well as I could make out a couple of the figurines and then looked back at the artist’s rendering to compare. Such a shame that this theatre was left to deteriorate over the many years. I’ve seen more than a few dirty theatre seats covered in dust since becoming a member of CT so these didn’t shock me…they just made me sad.