College Avenue Orpheum

518-522 College Avenue,
Racine, WI 53405

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Racine theatre showman William C. Tiede entered the world of stage and screen entertainment shortly after 1884, opening the old Turner Hall for traveling stage shows. He then went on the road with minstrel shows and “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, working as an advance man, but returned to Racine and opened the Bijou Theater within the McClurg Building/Secor Block at 245 Main Street (later the Nelson Hotel) in about 1906.

Tiede eventually returned to the Turner Hall location and opened the People’s Theater, later renaming it the College Avenue Orpheum (there was some local name confusion with the nearby Orpheum Theatre at State/Main Streets which was later renamed National Theatre, Allen Theatre and Mainstreet Theatre.)

Tiede introduced Cameraphone in about 1909 at his College Avenue Orpheum, an early sound-film process utilizing a backstage phonograph synchronized to some degree with the onscreen film images through signal dots and dashes. Tiede billed the shows as offering “beautiful and no longer dumb” attractions.

Contributed by Lou Rugani
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