Towne Theatre

717 N. Third Street,
Milwaukee, WI 53201

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Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on July 17, 2013 at 5:26 pm

A Barton Theater Pipe Organ, 2/, manual/, keyboards, was shipped 87 miles from the Barton factory in Oshkosh B'kosh, Wisconsin to the Miller Theatre in 1921. Does anyone know how many ranks, sets of pipes it had or what happened to it?

Matthew Prigge
Matthew Prigge on November 6, 2010 at 6:19 pm

In the fall of 1978, it was reported that an out-of-state church had purchased purchased the theatre to use a venue for Christian films. It must not have done real well, as it would razed less than a year later.

rivest266 on October 16, 2010 at 9:10 pm

December 26th, 1946 ad is at View link
(turn to the next page for the ad.)

kencmcintyre on March 25, 2010 at 2:12 am

Here is a March 1947 Boxoffice article about the Miller/Towne:

DavidHurlbutt on July 30, 2007 at 10:52 pm

The newly remodeled and renamed Towne opened with the Marx Brothers in A NIGHT IN CASABLANCA.

marxtoynut on May 17, 2007 at 11:54 pm

I worked at the Towne from April 1971 – Aug 1977. The manager was Joe Reynolds and his assistant was Kaye Vasos, both of whom were very nice folks. I remember Joe & his big ole stogey cigar and Kaye’s hair always in a bun. The projectionist/cashier husband & wife team I remeber were Mike and Lucy Tueller with whom I had a strong friendship. After joining the Air Force and getting stationed overseas I lost track of them, Joe, and Kaye. When I started working there they were still running fairly decent movies, but by the time I quit we were running the cut version of “Deep Throat” for the umpteenth time and really crummy kung-fu flicks.

The Towne didn’t have a whole lot of architectural detail but it had wonderful hand painted murals on either side of the small lobby. Outside, on either side of entrance, there used to be hand-painted billboards. I don’t remember the artists name at this point, but I remember seeing examples of his work – a pair of portraits of Rex Harrison & Audrey Hepburn in “My Fair Lady” finery. I also remember having to gather up the letters to change out the marquee every Thursday night. It took two of us to raise the approx 15' ladder and occasionally when I had to change the sign with someone who was scared of heights I would deliberately rock the ladder back & forth. In retrospect, a stupid, immature thing to do – but it was fun at the time!!

During my tenure the popcorn was purchased from our vendor pre-popped and in large bags, but I was told that in the “old days” the popcorn was popped in the basement and fed up through the floor to the popcorn bin. By what mechanism I don’t know.

My sister had worked at the Towne during the late fifties (it was she who got me the job as Joe Reynolds was the manager back then too!), and she related how the ushers used to wear uniforms and showed people to their seats using flashlights. She also said it was common for the well-to-do to drive up in limousines.

My memories are a tad different. There were usually only two or three of us working the floor, one person as the cashier, and one – maybe two, working the counter (the concession stand). Us guys were required to wear suits and the gals had to dress nice. Weekends during the day were a drag – the sailors from the Great Lakes Naval Base would be dropped off in front of either the Towne or Wisconsin’s only high-rise whore house, the Wisconsin Hotel across the street. It wasn’t uncommon to see the pimps standing outside the Hotel waiting to line up businesss courtesy of Uncle Sam. It also wasn’t uncommon to clean up their vomit after a hard day on the town. I woke up more than one sailor from the floor of the men’s room (located downstairs). There’s plenty more I could probably add but this will do for now.

Hal on March 1, 2006 at 2:46 pm

After I posted the above info, I started thinking about what I put in it and I’m not postive that the Towne had a curved screen, it may have been a flat one, too many years have passed!! If anyone else remembers please feel free to enlighten us! Most of the garbage I ran there wouldn’t have been made to look any better on a curved one anyway! The management had the booth run the arcs at the lowest amps that we could to save carbon, which caused an annoying flicker on the screen. Showmanship? Who cares!

Hal on March 1, 2006 at 2:34 pm

I worked as a projectionist at the Towne for a short while, when 70mm was added they put a new booth on the mezzanine level, some of us referred to it as “the submarine booth” because after you got up there you had to go down some narrow stairs into the sunken booth! Although I never ran 70mm there, it did have Century JJ2’s with Strong carbon arcs, I saw Patton there in 70mm, no D150, just a regular curved screen. When I was there we were running 2nd run films only, and bad ones at that! Nice house in it’s day.

DavidHurlbutt on October 2, 2004 at 6:19 pm

When the Towne opened in late 46 it instituted a single feature policiy. All other theaters in Downtown Milwaukee had a double feature policy, an A feature attraction with a B companion film. Most of the films shown at the Towne were United Artist releases, which at the time were often considered B films. During its first year it had two big attractions: Ceasar and Cleopatra and The Macomber Affair.
It also showed Jane Russell in The Outlaw, which only lasted a few days before the film was withdrawn and the theater was shut down. It reopened in two or three days with a double bill: The Bachelor"s Daughter and A Scandal in Paris.
In the early 50s the Towne had many big attractions including ANNIE GET YOUR GUN, QUO VADIS and THE TEN COMMANDMENTS.
Since the Towne was located on a side street, the management used their marquee in advertising films in a most creative way for Milwaukee. Instead of just black and red letters, they often had large flashing neon letters and sometime they would have a large picture/lobby card from the film illuminated on the large marquee.

JimRankin on April 13, 2004 at 4:23 pm

Please let me know if you learn anything more about this theatre. Thank You. Jim Rankin =