Rialto Theater

1007 Milwaukee Avenue,
South Milwaukee, WI 53172

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GARDEN Theatre, July 1957.

The Garden Theater was opened in 1920. It was renamed Rialto Theatre around 1930. The building is currently used as a carpet store.

Contributed by Lost Memory

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 12, 2013 at 12:11 pm

Milwaukee Movie Theaters, by Larry Widen, says that pioneer Milwaukee exhibitor Edward J. Wagner built the Garden Theatre in 1919 after selling his other theaters. He operated the Garden until his death in 1930.

Lee_Loveall on September 1, 2016 at 5:27 am

My mother, brother and I moved in with my grandparents in 1953 on 12th Avenue, 2-½ blocks west of the Garden Theater. I lived in the area until graduating from high school in 1966 and going into the service. I only knew the place as the Garden Theater. As a child I remember being able to get into the movie, buy popcorn and/or candy and a soda for under a dollar. It was a comfortable place to view the great movies of the time and take a date. I do not remember what year it closed but I am pretty sure it was after 1966. It’s only competition within a ten-mile radius was the Majestic Theater in Cudahy, and the 41-Twin Outdoor Theater in Franklin.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 1, 2016 at 5:00 pm

A South Milwaukee walking tour brochure (PDF here) says of the Garden Theatre “…this popular movie house served the community until 1977. Currently Board Game Barristers.”

This weblog post says that the Garden Theatre building was gutted by a fire in 1979, and was then remodeled and annexed to the adjacent South Milwaukee Carpet and Vinyl store. When the carpet store closed in 2014, the space was taken over by Board Game Barrister, a retail chain headed by the son of the carpet store’s owners. The game shop uses the original carpet store as retail space and the former theater as its warehouse and distribution center.

While it’s possible that this house was renamed Rialto Theatre for a time and then changed back to its original name, I’ve been unable to find any references to a Rialto Theatre at South Milwaukee in the trade publications (but I haven’t checked the FDY.) In any case, Lee_Loveall is correct about the house having been called the Garden Theatre during its final decades.

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