Roosevelt Theater

2910 Roosevelt Road,
Kenosha, WI 53143

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ROOSEVELT Theatre, Kenosha, Wisconsin, in about 1940.

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The Roosevelt Theater was opened December 25, 1927. It was closed as a movie theater in mid-March 1985. Most recently, the Roosevelt Theater was a teen music club and a storefront.

The Roosevelt Theater was demolished in early-October 2008.

Contributed by Pete Christy

Recent comments (view all 51 comments)

MiltonSmith on October 9, 2008 at 4:06 pm

I heard the entire front of the building was demolished today.

kencmcintyre on March 3, 2010 at 2:55 pm

Here is a slightly crumpled newspaper ad from 1977:

LouisRugani on August 6, 2010 at 3:19 pm

Racine Journal-Times, February 8, 1943)
Mrs. Grace Adele Exton, 41, wife of J. William Exton, manager of the Roosevelt theater, died Saturday at the Kenosha hospital following a short illness. She was born in Niles, Ohio, Dec 16, 1901.

LouisRugani on November 12, 2010 at 1:56 pm

Elmer George Hayek, 84, of Springfield, formerly of Kenosha, WI, passed away at 5:00 p.m., November 5, 2001 at his residence. He was born June 23, 1917 in Detroit, MI the son of George and Mary Exton Hayek. He married Alice Louise Reis in Lake Geneva, WI on August 30, 1938 and she preceded him in death in 1995. He moved to Kenosha at age 16 to work for his uncle, William “Bill” Exton at the Roosevelt Theater. Later in life, he was a motion picture operator at the Kenosha, Orpheum, Roosevelt, Gateway, and Keno theaters. He then worked as a linotype operator and foreman of the composing room at Lloyd Hollister Printing and Pioneer Press in Wilmette, IL. Mr. Hayek lived in Kenosha, WI from 1950 until 1999 when he moved to Springfield, IL. Mr. Hayek was a member of Bristol Oaks Country Club, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and was a volunteer for the Kenosha Memorial Hospital. He had also served his country in the U.S. Army during World War II. He enjoyed playing golf and was devoted to his family. He was also preceded in death by his parents, and a brother: Albert. He is survived by a daughter: Susan (husband, Michael) Shaw of Springfield; a sister: Evelyn Willard of Mena, AR; a grandson: Scot Shaw of Cambridge, MA; and a nephew: George Hayek of El Dorado Hills, CA. Remains were cremated and Private Memorial Services will be observed at a later date. Memorial contributions may be made to the Adams Wildlife Sanctuary, 2315 Clearlake Ave., Springfield, IL 62703. The family of Elmer George Hayek is being served by Kirlin-Egan and Butler Funeral Home and Cremation Tribute Center, 900 S. 6th St., Springfield, IL.

LouisRugani on February 22, 2011 at 3:21 pm

(February 22, 1946)
Kenosha Has $100,000 Blaze

KENOSHA (UP) â€" Kenosha firemen battled a blaze Thursday which destroyed three store buildings and six apartments and which caused damage estimated in excess of $100,000. No one was injured.

Destroyed were the Roosevelt Drug Store, the Kroger Food Store, the Melli Candy Shop and six apartments located on the second floor.

The buildings all were located in the Roosevelt theatre block. The first alarm was sent in when smoke began seeping through registers from a hot air furnace in the theater. The theater crowd was dismissed and apartment dwellers had time to pack a few personal belongings before escaping.
All available fire equipment and firemen were called out to fight
the fire, the exact cause of which was undetermined.

Nicholas Vargelis
Nicholas Vargelis on September 19, 2013 at 8:53 am

interior during demolition:

LouRugani on October 28, 2015 at 10:06 pm

The ROOSEVELT Theatre was built as a portion of a larger business block erected by Einar Dahl. Original plans indicate that the overall building design was drawn by August Wolff of the Milwaukee firm of Wolff & Ramsthal. Revisions to the theater proper were noted as having been done by Kenosha architect Charles O. Augustine. The theater opened to the public on Christmas Day, 1927. The last movie was shown in mid=March, 1985 and the building was vacant since 1997.

Bibliographic References: Kenosha City Directory; tax assessors records; “New Roosevelt Theater Is a Monument to Einar Dahl,” Kenosha Evening News, 24 December 1927, 22/1; “No Plans to Reopen Roosevelt,” Kenosha News, 14 March 1985. “Architecture/History Survey.” WHS project number 03-1016/KN. October 2003. Heritage Research, Ltd.

LouRugani on January 5, 2018 at 2:31 pm

Kenosha closes the curtain on historic theater (DAILY REPORTER, August 11, 2008)

Kenosha is tearing down one of its historic movie houses over the objections of the building’s owners. Kathryn Hanneman and John Gee, owners of the Roosevelt Theatre since 2000, pleaded with city officials to spare the building. They want to turn the movie house into a studio for shooting commercials and television pilots. But after eight years, they’ve made no progress. Worse, say city officials, the owners let the building deteriorate to a condition beyond repair. “It’s a building that is in a serious state if disrepair,” said Jim Schultz, Kenosha’s director of Neighborhood Services and Inspections. “It’s a public nuisance and a public safety issue.” But Hanneman said the city is rushing to destroy a historic property. She claims the building is made of concrete and steel girders thicker than skyscrapers, and could easily stand for years to come. “I think it speaks to their lack of vision,” Hanneman said. “Projects like this are done all of the time. They really don’t have any reason to bring it down.” The single-screen Roosevelt Theatre, the longest continuously screening theater in Kenosha, opened Christmas Day in 1927 and showed movies for 55 years. It was designed by architect Einar Dahl and revised by architect Charles Augustine. Capacity was originally 1,000 seats but was reduced to 764 seats in the 1970s. Along with the movie theater, there was a bowling alley in the basement. The interior of the building is all but gone, Schultz said. The bowling alley was removed years ago, and the original organ was dismantled in the 1950s to make room for air conditioning. The Kenosha City Council voted 14-1 on Aug. 4 to raze the building. The council approved a $37,000 contract with Champion Environmental Services Inc., Gilberts, Ill., to remove asbestos from the theater before demolition. Asbestos removal is scheduled to being in two weeks. Demolition would begin in six weeks. Hanneman and Gee owe $150,000 in liens and back taxes on the property. They said they do not have the money to make even basic repairs to the theater. They were working with an anonymous donor to receive $500,000 for the theater, but the money was tied up in estate proceedings, Hanneman said. Gee, an entertainment promoter from Milwaukee, said Kenosha overestimated how much it would cost to “button up” the building until money is found for restoration. His plan was to either fix the exterior and sell the theater to a developer or create a recording and television studio. But that plan received little support from city officials, said Gee, noting that public money was available to help the Kenosha Theatre and the Rhode Opera House in the city’s downtown. When he asked for city support for the Roosevelt Theatre, he was turned away. “We wanted a property that supports itself, not one that’s supported by the city,” he said, adding that, in retrospect, he and Hanneman didn’t have the experience needed to complete the project. “That was the weakness in our plan. We didn’t have a real estate professional in our group.” Schultz said the city does not support tearing down historic buildings. But in the case of the Roosevelt Theatre, he said, restoration would cost more than $1 million. “Really there’s no choice in the matter,” he said. “The owner doesn’t have the resources to make the minimum necessary repairs.” The 12,500 square-foot theater is in central Kenosha about a mile from the city’s downtown, which includes two historic theaters, one in use and the other undergoing a $24 million restoration. The Roosevelt has not been used as a theater for more than 20 years. There are no plans to redevelop the site, Schultz said.

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