200 N. Second Avenue,
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During World War I, S.J. Keefe built the Rex Theater at the corner of N. Second Avenue and First Street N. This location was located across an intersection from the newer Park Theater, which was later built sometime around 1948.
In 1919, Mr. Keefe sold the Rex Theater to James Esterl, who left the saloon business after Prohibition was enacted. The Esterl family managed their theater like a “big city” venue.
In 1929, James' son John purchased an RCA Photophone projector and showed the first talking picture show at Park Falls. It was called “The Rainbow Man”, and starred Eddie Dowling. The Rex Theater was redecorated for the event and, as the local newspaper reported, “the natty new usher’s uniforms worn by the Misses Pauline and Florence Esterl added a metropolitan touch to the place”.
The Rex Theater continued to be a bright spot throughout the dark depression years and into the 1960’s. It brought country people to the city, and city people downtown for entertainment. It was part of what made the city’s business district special. Two generations of Park Falls area people took their favorite dates to the Rex Theater, or watched the newsreels that reported the news of World War II.
The Rex Theater closed in 1958, and the building has since been used by several businesses.
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