Downtown Cinema

315 S. Barstow Street,
Eau Claire, WI 54701

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Cameo Budget Theatre, Eau Claire, WI

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The Cameo Theatre opened in the late-1940’s. This theatre showed second run films when it was operated by Grengs' Theatres. By 2012, it was operated by Micon Cinemas.

Contributed by Ken McIntyre

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

kenosharay on December 10, 2007 at 7:32 pm

This theatre reopened in the 60’s after being used for storage for many years. The premiere movie was The Sound of Music and it played there for over a year. If has not been split into two theatres.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 19, 2009 at 11:03 pm

Blueprints for a Cameo Theatre at Eau Claire are in the collection of the papers of the architectural firm Liebenberg and Kaplan held by the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. Various items about the theater in the collection are dated 1940, 1945 and 1946. I don’t know if this was a new building in 1940, or if Liebenberg and Kaplan just did a remodeling of an existing theater.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 25, 2009 at 7:12 pm

In that case, the 1940 date on the Liebenberg and Kaplan papers web site might be a mistake, or perhaps a plan to build in 1940 ran into problems, and then the owner had to wait until after the war to get the project built.

kenosharay on January 26, 2011 at 4:18 pm

Back when this was a one screen theatre it was known as Cinema 1 for a period of time.

Trolleyguy on November 29, 2011 at 7:50 pm

Theater website refers to it as “Downtown Cinema>”

movieman547 on February 10, 2012 at 10:20 pm

It was built in 1945 by Minnesota Amusement Company the owners of the other theatres in Eau Claire at that time, (State Theatre, O'Klare Theater, Badger Theatre) The Hollywood Theatre was under construction at that time also, it was being built by Sheldon Grengs. To my knowledge, MN Amusement Co. put up the Cameo in hopes of keeping the Grengs family from completing construction of the Hollywood. The plan didn’t work out, the Hollywood construction was completed and opened. The Cameo was open until 1951 then closed until 1966, when Gene Grengs, Sheldon Grengs son re opened it as the Cinema 1 theatre in 1966. It ran as a first run theatre til 1992, then closed for a year and re-opened as a Budget theatre in October 1993. It was called the Cameo Budget Theatre until Sept 2010 when Micon Cinemas of Chippewa Falls purchased the Grengs Theatres and re-named it the “Downtown Cinema. I know a lot of Eau Claire theatre history, as I have worked at them since 1976, and done extensive research.

dallasmovietheaters on September 13, 2015 at 5:14 am

The Cameo was indeed constructed in 1945 but wartime shortages of materials led to the theatre’s delay finally opening on Christmas Day 1946 with the banner “Our Christmas gift to Eau Claire.” The MIndako Circuit is credited as the first operator of the theatre on that day.

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