Grand Theatre

619 56th Street,
Kenosha, WI 53140

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GRAND Theatre; Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The Grand Theatre was opened December 24, 1908. It was closed in 1910, and this small early nickelodeon is forgotten today.

Contributed by Lou Rugani

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LouRugani on October 4, 2016 at 11:38 pm

The GRAND Theatre in Kenosha opened on Christmas Eve of 1908 within the Meyers Block building and was owned and operated by John L. McConnell Jr. Two days later, a projection-booth fire caused two hundred patrons to evacuate into the rear alley. McConnell, who was operating the projector, said an advertising film he was threading caught fire when it touched a wire in the projector, which was also destroyed, and McConnell sustained severe right-hand burns from his attempts to extinguish the flames.

The following year saw McConnell announcing a new partnership with William Bottenburg of Chicago to build a chain of film theatres “with a touch of vaudeville” (Kenosha News, August 31, 1909). Cities besides Kenosha under consideration included Madison, Stevens Point, Duluth, Beloit, Janesville, La Crosse, Eau Claire, Appleton, Waukesha and Superior, Wisconsin and Winona, Minnesota.

A September 23, 1910 GRAND Theatre ad in the Kenosha Evening News exclaimed that a number of studios were licensed to exhibit their product at the GRAND including Essanay, Pathe, Edison, Gaumont, Biograph, Kalem, Lubin, Selig, Melies, Eclipse and Vitagraph.

But by 1912, the Kenosha Business Directory shows the building space occupied by the Postal Telegraph Cable Company and the Conforti Brothers Tailoring Shop.

The Meyers Block itself became the TMER&L Interurban Station and the local Wisconsin Gas and Electric offices, and was destroyed by fire on February 14, 1978.

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