Al Ringling Theatre
136 Fourth Avenue,
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The 830-seat Al Ringling Theatre was the grandest theater ever built in Baraboo, which had a few smaller theaters up to that point.
It was built by circus showman Al Ringling (of the Ringling Brothers) as a gift back to the town in which he grew up and loved. He hired Chicago architectural firm Rapp & Rapp, best known for their Chicago Theatre, to design his playhouse.
Built in French Renaissance style, the Al Ringling Theatre is as ornate as any European opera house, complete with gilded plasterwork, frescoes and mosaics and antique tapestries. The Ringling opened on November 17, 1915 to operatic performances, but soon became known for vaudeville and later motion pictures.
Amazingly, the theater has remained almost completely intact over the years, despite some 1970’s renovations made with the best intentions that were corrected in the 1990’s. The theater continues to mainly screen movies, but is also used for live shows, concerts and community gatherings.
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