Walworth Theater

Beloit Street,
Walworth, WI 53184

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WALWORTH Theatre, Walworth WI on February 27, 1950.

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The Walworth Theatre opened in April 1947, with 700 seats.

Contributed by Ken McIntyre

Recent comments (view all 12 comments)

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 20, 2010 at 4:23 pm

This article in Boxoffice magazine, December 6, 1947, contains some photos of the theatre.
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LouisRugani on August 8, 2010 at 3:27 am

The Walworth Theatre opened on the south edge of the Walworth town square in April of 1947. By 1979 it was being operated by Anne and Harlan Seaser.

LouisRugani on August 8, 2010 at 5:00 am

(February 8, 1957, Janesville Gazette)
Fontana Man Gets Year’s Probation
ELKHORN-James Marsden, 22, Fontana, was placed on probation for a year by County Judge Roscoe Luce here Thursday on Marsden's
guilty plea to burglarizing the Walworth Theater and Showette
lunch counter Feb. 6.
Judge Luce ordered Marsden to make restitution and pay court
Police Chief Carl Severt at Walworth said a small amount of cash
was taken from the theater and lunch counter.
The sheriff’s department here

LouisRugani on August 8, 2010 at 9:22 am

(Janesville Gazette, December 31, 1948)
In October Thomas Finin took over management of the Walworth theatre. Louis Simonini, who has managed the theatre since its opening in April, 1947, returned to the Saunders theatre in Harvard. In an industry magazine. the Walworth theatre was called one of the finest and best planned small town theatres in the country.

LouisRugani on August 8, 2010 at 9:38 am

(Janesville Gazette, November 1, 1955)
Walworth Theater Management Changed
WALWORTH â€" Announcement was made Monday by F. B. Schlax, district manager of Standard Theaters, that arrangements have been completed with S. J. Papas, owner of the Walworth Theater, for Standard to handle management and operation of the theater. The Standard Theater Co. is under the general managership of A. D. Kvool and has its main office in Milwaukee. The company owns and operates the Geneva Theater, Lake Geneva, and the Delavan Theater, as well as theaters in Beloit, Janesville, Kenosha, Racine, Waukesha, Oshkosh, Sheboygan and Green Bay. Tom Finin, local manager, spent the last few days in the film department of Standard’s Milwaukee office, where arrangements were completed to bring wide-screen productions to Walworth simultaneously with showings in metropolitan cities.

LouisRugani on August 11, 2010 at 5:43 pm

(Photo caption, Janesville Gazette, February 28, 1950)
STAGE-STRUCK TRUCK â€" Apparently intent on seeing the latest movie, this semi-trailer truck loaded with eggs skidded and nearly entered the Walworth theatre before overturning yesterday. Gordon Bubel, Milan, Mich., owner of the trailer and eggs, reported about a 5 per cent loss due to breakage. He suffered a cut on the forehead. Lawrence Fender, Alexandria, Minn., owner and driver of the tractor, was uninjured. Although the truck didn’t get into the theatre, it did get into the movies when local photographers showed up with cameras. At center: Policeman Doug Dunn and Marshall Elery McCullough, right, assist in unloading-operations.
(Photo can be seen in Wisconsin Theatres www.onelist.com/group/WisconsinTheatres

TLSLOEWS on August 11, 2010 at 6:12 pm

Was a nice looking little theatre.

Tinseltoes on July 1, 2012 at 11:55 am

The Walworth was described in this 1947 trade article: boxofficemagazine

LouRugani on July 23, 2012 at 6:20 pm

(BOXOFFICE, December 6, 1947)

Small-Town Theatre Designed for Public Service
by Hanns R. Teichert

There are many small towns now supporting an old grownup-with-the-town theatre that are wide open for a second new and up-to-date house. But Walworth, Wis. is not one of them. Venerable as the town is, its inhabitants and those of the surrounding countryside are the proud patrons of one of the most modern and delightfully functional theatres in their part of the country. This property, owned by the Harvard Theatre Corporation, composed of John Papas, C. J. Papas and S. J. Papas, seats seven hundred people. And the first illustration will show how smart the house is from the initial visual impression.

A Refreshment Bar

It will be noticed at once that the building incorporates a refreshment bar. And inasmuch as this issue is stressing that feature of service, we cannot think of a better example of smart handling in this department. For this little bar is unique in many respects. In the first place, there is a service counter running across the middle of the shop so that it is divided into two separate sales areas; that toward the front door, and that toward the side rear door. From the front are served the people who come in from the street and who are not just then patronizing the theatre. And from the rear door are served those who come in from the theatre. Thus there is no confusion of unticketed small patrons getting among those who have already paid their entrances.

The other side of the door to the theatre lobby can be seen in the second illustration, where it will be noticed how smoothly it is incorporated into the features of the lobby wall. But first, a glance through the large plate glass window between the Showette and the outer lobby arrests the patron as he comes in and by the time he reaches the door in the inner lobby he has likely made up his mind to step in for popcorn, candy or something at the fountain. At least, that was what the Showette started serving when they first opened; but the demand has been so great that now hot and cold sandwiches have been added and small lunches. They are also making their own ice cream, and all this is served both day and night. This provides a great service to the children who throng in from the grammar and high school next door. To say that the Showette is popular is a vast understatement. For those who do not want to go into the Showette when it is apt to be crowded with youngsters just before and after features, there is a bar at the head of the lobby where quick refreshments such as candy, gum and popcorn can be picked up in passing. Older people seem to find this a convenience. It will be noticed that both of these areas are incorporated into the architecture of the interior, and that they are neat, sanitary and a visual asset to the theatre instead of the messy and in-the-way afterthoughts that they sometimes are.

Smartly Functional

But enough for the handling of refreshments in this smart theatre and on to some of the other features it offers its patrons. On the opposite side of the lobby from the Showette are recesses leading to a modem ladies' powder room, the men’s smoking room, and a tiled inset containing the drinking fountain. Thus the necessary facilities for the service of patrons are distributed on both sides of the incoming and outgoing traffic areas so that a smooth flow is assured at all times. But it is the decoration of the Walworth Theatre that also keys it to what is best in its field. Foremost is the fact that everything has been so simply handled that it will date less quickly than most other houses: still, when the time comes for a general up-dating, the whole atmosphere of the house can be changed simply through an alteration of decorative treatment. Another color scheme, now motifs in the decorative panels, a few different accents here and there and presto! … a new interior!

The Color Scheme

At present, the color scheme in the lobby consists of coral red, warm off-white and gold, with carpeting that tones in well and is the same throughout the house. Plain surfaces on the side walls act as a foil to the rich squares of custom-made marble textured paper applied where the walls break toward the auditorium. Between these two marbleized areas is the centered candy bar backed with a decorative panel in an abstract floral pattern, well illuminated from the trough above. In fact, the illumination throughout the theatre is one of its most distinctive points. It was all especially designed and custom-made, much of it in pierced brass of classically fine design that will go with any subsequent redecorations. Another distinctive feature of the Walworth Theatre is its woodwork, which is finished in a natural light tone throughout to emphasize its good graining. This, too, is a permanent asset of the interior and requires no great working over in case of later changes.

The auditorium does not show the mistake made by so many of the smaller houses in going fussy or cute because of its size. The Walworth auditorium is executed with a dignity and simplicity that increases its size rather than diminishes it. The coral seating gives life to the area while the walls of deep turquoise are inset with sand-toned panels displaying free rhythmic leaf forms in a modern sketchy style. These are illuminated by curved light troughs that are a part of the panel ornamentation, and further lighting is taken care of free recessed overhead squares. It all sounds simple indeed, but the richness of these colorings and the feeling of tasteful restraint in the handling give a dynamic effect that is worth any amount of overdressing.

For All the People

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this house is the whole effect it has of being residential rather than commercial. This is a well-calculated result, built up of many details, and planned that way because of the patronage it serves. The latter is composed of townspeople, farmers from the surrounding rural area, resort people during the summer from the nearby lakes, and an unusual percentage of youngsters not only from the aforementioned sources but from a large military academy nearby.

It was desired that this theatre provide an intimate and homelike atmosphere further to bind all these elements of people together, rather than a coldly commercial interior, however impressive. And in this the Walworth is an acknowledged success. People of all the groups mentioned above do express themselves as feeling at home there. The Showette acts as their kitchen where they can pick up a bite when they are hungry. The powder and smoking rooms are sanitary and attractive, they meet their friends in the lobby, and they relax together in the auditorium as comfortably as in their own living rooms. The Walworth Theatre is the community’s mutual home for entertainment, and there is no need or room in the town for another.

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