Park Theatre

717 N. Grand Avenue,
Waukesha, WI 53186

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Park Theatre

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The Park Theatre opened in December 1920, originally part of the Saxe chain. It was located on Grand Avenue near Wisconsin Avenue, across from Cutler Park, which it was named for.

In the late-1970’s, the aging theater was purchased along with the Pix Theatre on Main Street by a new owner who operated the theaters for about a decade before their upkeep became too cost-prohibative. The Park Theatre was shuttered in 1987.

About a year later, the Park Theatre was gutted by a blaze caused by arsonists. The ruined theater was later demolished and its owner sold the property for new development in the early-1990’s.

Contributed by Bryan

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

kjv7782 on September 17, 2008 at 1:57 pm

I saw ‘The Dark Crystal’ at this theatre in 1982. It was in a great location just across the street from the Public Library. I remember a small department store next door as well.

sdowns on October 27, 2009 at 2:14 pm

does anyone have any pictures of the inside of this theater that they could post?

rex on February 9, 2010 at 8:01 pm

I worked at the Park Theater in 1969 and 1970. The manager was a great guy, John Lauer, and I shared box office duties with a nice girl, Jan Loew. I remember there was a flower shop to the right of the theater. I have wonderful memories of that time in my life and I feel very sad that the theater was destroyed by arsonists.

craiga on April 12, 2011 at 8:08 am

I have very distinct childhood memorys of the park theatre growing up in the 70’s. I remember between movies they would play music. Gershwin’s Rhapsody in blue was one of the songs. I always think of the park when I hear that. I also remember the clock over the Exit on the left side of the screen. It was a glow in the dark Art deco clock that advertised “waukesha taxi”. I always wanted that clock. I think the decor was light blueish/green. I was sad when it burnt down.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 26, 2014 at 3:02 pm

A story in the May 2, 1947, issue of the Waukesha Daily Freeman said that the Park Theatre opened in December, 1920. An earlier house of the same name was in operation prior to 1912 at a location on Broadway. It had closed by 1917.

browneyedgirl17 on December 20, 2015 at 7:32 pm

I have such fond memories of the Park Theatre back in the mid to late 70’s to the early 80’s. I was only 10 years old when I was able to go see a movie without my parents there, and only a few good friends and of course with all of this “NEW Star Wars” Hype now, it’s brings me right back there. It was across from Cutler Park (well sort of, actually kiddy corner from the park and library.) I remember there was a flower shop on one side and a small store on the other side. And the Park was the largest of the 2 theatres as far as seating went, as the Pix on sat about 60 people in a multi plez of 2 theatres if I’m correct. And the Avalon at that time was shut down and turned into a Chinese restaurant with really good food! And a movie would only cost about 45 cents then, I will admit that I saw “Star Wars” about 6 times! Other than that, our parents would usually take all of us kids to the Drive In theatre on Hwy 18, and they would only charge by the carload, not per person. So, having 5 kids was by far the best idea, and it was fun to! Back then we would have sometimes have dinner at the out door, but also they allowed you to bring in a cooler (as long as there were no alcohol beverages) My Mom was pretty crafty with bringing in dinner that was a lot of things we liked, like PBJ sandwiches and ham and cheese, turkey and swiss on rye ect… She had everything to make any kind of sandwich plus veggies and dip. We later would get ice cream cones at the out door theatre later on. And it wasn’t odd for us as young kids to be in out pj’s as we had our pillows and blankets in our huge Oldsmobile Station Wagon, lol! We did that a lot in the summer time. They also had Mini Gold and a fun place to play for us kids on the side of the theatre park. But in the winter we would go to Park or the Pix (most time the park) to see other movies like Godzilla and Gamerah, lol! Boy do I feel old! And there was nothing to worry about back then leaving a bunch of 10 year olds at the movies by themselves for a couple of hours either back then! Now! I wouldn’t dare to go near there after the sun goes down on foot at all what so ever! But then again, now there is a bunch of high end apartment building and the Social Security Office below on the corner. Plus a large municipal parking structure to the left of that that is manned 24/7 365 days a week. With cameras everywhere and a bank across the street with an ATM. But I still would not be on foot down there, that is just asking for trouble. Oh how I miss the days of not having to worry at all! Being and hanging around downtown as a kid was fun and safe. So much to do, and we did so much. Loved our Park Theatre that sat more than 800 people as well. I wish I could go back in time and do things over again. Some things the same way, some no so much. Oh, and both my My Mom and Sister worked at Paul’s Metropolitan Restaurant in the old Metropolitan building that is still there today. Bus so, so much has changed. The recruiting center used to be in there for all armed forces. After school we would got to the arcade or the pool hall to play billiards, or go and see a movie, go bowling or what ever our heart desired as long as our homework was done. Then after would meet my Mom and she would buy us a Coke or Milkshake while we waited. (she only worked there part time, so it wasn’t a daily thing unless we took what was brand new in 1982 “The Metro Bus System” and our parents on Fridays would give us money to eat dinner at our favorite sub shop called “Subupia” back then. And to take the bus home at the latest bus was only .35 cents, which would drop me off across the street from my house I lived at. And that last bus was at or before 9:30 p.m. so I would get home way before my curfew at 10:00 p.m. on the weekend. Plus shen I turned 15 years old I worked at a dime store during Christmas season, which began right after Oct. 31st. Boy those were the days! And we were good kids. So Dad didn’t mind forking out 5 bucks. Which was a lot back then, but it did last me all day with change to spare, and sometimes I was able to help a friend with money to see a movie or get home on bus as well. We would all take care of each other when it came down to getting home on time. Even putting all of our change together, plus our friends that lived closer to downtown would also put their change in for us to get home safe and warm in the winter. It all worked out in end. I was so sad to hear that the Park Theatre burned down by arsonists in 1987, the very same year my Son was born. They really wanted to do something special with that old land mark at that time as they were doing a whole new “Urban Renewal” project downtown and we actually lived in a brand new (never lived in before) downtown loft on South Street when this happened. I remember so vividly all of the smoke piling out of that building that was pretty much right around the corner from South Street. But they had most of it all blocked off, but you could even see that black smoke billowing up into the sky for what seemed ike hours. I really would have loved to see what they would have done with that land mark as well. The Park Theatre will always be in my memories and in my heart since I was child when I first started going there, but with my parents to see “Godzilla, Gamerah, Kink Kong” and of course some fo the “Star Wars” episodes. I think it was only the original “Star Wars” and the 2nd which was “The Empire Strikes Back” then shortly after they built these 2 large cineplexes with stadium seating and dolby sound which made a huge difference in the motion picture industry. Both “West Town and East Town Cinemas were created, but it seems they didn’t last vrey long at all. Marcus Corp took over and now we have the "Majestic” here and another our on hwh 43. And of course the BIG SCREENS! And also the options of seeing them in 3D or 4D and even IMAX or dinner theatres in which you’re served by a waitress in a very quiet setting. And is’t surely not cheap either! Dinner theatres run about $30.00 per person, and that does not include tip. I tend to go to Matinee’s the most on the weekdays. Less crowded, and better seat selection :) . Plus it’s only ½ the cost of the regular night time movie.

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