Park I & II Theatre

3015 Washington Avenue,
Racine, WI 53405

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LouRugani
LouRugani on July 18, 2018 at 5:42 pm

The theatre might have been saved had it been added to the National Register of Historic Places. According to a memo from Racine’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LRC) the building may have been eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, but neither the owner nor the Landmarks Preservation Commission “took action to provide the property with a level of review and protection through a … nomination or local designation.” Property taxes for the years 2008 and 2010-2017 remain unpaid. With special assessments and penalties they add up to more than $123,000. The building and land are currently assessed at $150,000. Marcus Corporation purchased the Capitol Theatre from Carmichael & Associates in 1981 for $50,000. It was renovated and duplexed and renamed the Park Cinemas 1 & 2, mostly showing second-run films. Marcus closed the theatre in September 1987.

LouRugani
LouRugani on July 18, 2018 at 5:30 pm

From 1928 until the 1980s, the Park Theatre showed movies. Now, the building sits crumbling, cluttered and vacant. City of Racine Chief Building Inspector Kenneth Plaski ordered the building be razed because “the structure had deteriorated structurally to the point where the building was no longer safe to be inhabited.” Demolition won’t begin for several months likely, because the courts still need to review the order. Plaski reported that the building’s exterior is in disrepair. At a July 16, 2018 Landmarks Preservation Committee meeting, a photograph was shown depicting visible holes in the roof of the theater. “That didn’t happen overnight,” said Don Schumacher, a member of the committee. “It’s taken a few years to get to this point.” The committee accepted and filed Plaski’s order. It doesn’t have the power to stall or speed along the process. The building is also rife with plumbing and electrical violations, according to the inspector, and there have also been “related odors emanating from the building at the sidewalk.” This accumulation is the result of a pipe back-up, resulting in 5 inches of raw sewage filling the basement. There is also “pigeon excrement over the entire theater area,” according to Plaski. In August 2017, Plaski ordered a list of 24 repairs and inspections needed to make the building habitable again. He reported that none of them had been complied with in the last 11 months. The building’s owner, John Apple, ignored orders to repair the building, according to the city, resulting in the raze order. Looking through the former theater’s glass doors, piles of antiques can be seen filling the lobby, including two safes, a barber chair, at least 10 cash registers, several lampshades, a trash bin full of aluminum cans, several human figurines and a smashed smoke detector. One of the more-than-two-dozen violations Plaski laid out was a lack of functioning smoke detectors. Apple has until Aug. 3 to contest the raze order. If he doesn’t, the courts can decide the fate of the historic building. If the building is condemned and razed, it will be Apple’s responsibility to pay for it. On Monday, Plaski told the Landmarks Preservation Committee that Apple owes more than $1.7 million in back forfeitures and tax delinquency, in addition to $57,000 owed to the Department of Revenue and $45,000 to WE Energies. The Park Theatre is valued at only $108,000. In June, Plaski told Apple that the building was no longer suitable for human habitation. However, a tenant of Apple’s claims she was unaware of the issues. Neregin Paynes-Ramsey is the owner of the Regime Hair Studio, located in the same building as the Park Theatre. A wall separates the salon and the cluttered theater lobby. “I really didn’t know this was going on with Mr. Apple,” she said. Paynes-Ramsey said that she didn’t know there was any risk of the building being condemned until she was ordered to vacate in June. She asked the Landmarks Preservation Committee for an extension on the order to vacate, but the committee is not legally able to fulfill the request. That’s up to the courts. According to City of Racine Building Department documents, the building is supposed to be vacated by all tenants by Wednesday. The Regime Hair Studio is the only occupant, although there are empty apartments on the second floor above the lobby. Paynes-Ramsey claimed that more than $4,000 was spent on electrical work to make her salon functional, even though the building as a whole is now condemned. Members of the Landmarks Preservation Committee discussed ways to prevent situations like this. Committee member Pippin Michelli inquired if there were ways to help owners maintain their properties. “Public money is not the answer,” fellow committee member John Monefeldt said. “It (the raze order) probably should’ve been issued some time ago.” The theater was built in 1928, and Marcus Corporation purchased the building for $50,000 in 1981, after which it was renovated and renamed Park Cinemas 1 & 2, because the theater had two screens. It closed in 1987 and hasn’t shown another movie since. The theatre was sold four times between 1987 and 2006, when it was acquired by Apple. It was once recommended to the National Register for its Mediterranean Revival architecture but was never added. The building is not considered a landmark by any local or national entity. This isn’t the first time the city has taken a building from Apple. He once owned a building at 410 Main St., which he used to store antiques. The building was considered blighted and condemned in 2002, for which Apple was compensated $197,000 in 2005. It now houses Not Your Parents Basement Gaming Lounge.

AdajhaRacine
AdajhaRacine on May 16, 2018 at 2:26 pm

I would love to see the inside of this theatre ! Anyone know how to contact someone uptodate i would like to look into renovations !

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 24, 2017 at 1:03 pm

The judo classes given at the Park Theatre are provided by Racine Youth Sports, a nonprofit volunteer organization. Most of their activities are held in Haban Park.

I don’t know the nature of the group’s arrangement with the theater. I’ve been unable to discover if it is still owned by the Westbury Group LLC, the investment bank that bought it in 2004 with the intention of renovating it for use as a performing arts venue. Thirteen years is an awfully long time for a for-profit company to hang on to a property that can’t bringing in much revenue, if any.

At least the fact that RYS is using the building for kids' classes indicates that it is unlikely to fall down from decay. The promised renovation for theatrical use, however, must be at the very least on hold for now, and has perhaps been abandoned.

stephny0923
stephny0923 on November 24, 2017 at 12:37 pm

My sister worked there. It was an oldie but classic. I watched many movies there. It looks like it is still up and running with classes or something like that.

rivest266
rivest266 on November 15, 2017 at 1:08 pm

This opened on May 30th, 1928 as Capitol. It reopened as a twin cinema on March 5th, 1976.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 6, 2015 at 11:25 pm

The nearest movie theater to Racine is in the outlying village of Sturtevant, and the next nearest is in Kenosha. It does seem odd that a city of almost 80,000 would be entirely without a movie theater of its own while Sturtevant, with only about 6,000 people, would have a large, modern multiplex.

My guess would be that Sturtevant has been very aggressive at attracting businesses, probably through large tax subsidies. If Racine wants a movie theater it will probably have to cough up a hefty subsidy itself to convince an exhibitor to compete with the Marcus Theatres venue in Sturtevant. Marcus itself probably won’t want to open another multiplex so close to the one it already runs.

davidplomin
davidplomin on December 6, 2015 at 8:27 pm

According to this site, Racine had 17 theaters at one time, and ZERO today! What happened? Two of these are supposedly going to be renovated, but I see no follow up articles. How could a city the size of Racine have no theaters open?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 21, 2013 at 11:21 pm

A list of theaters designed by the Milwaukee architectural firm of Dick & Bauer was published in the October 25, 1930, issue of Exhibitors Herald-World, and it lists the Capitol Theatre at Racine among their works. It’s possible that J. Mandor Matson was the supervising architect for the project, but he was apparently just beginning his career around 1920 when the Capitol was built (the earliest project I’ve seen attributed to him in the trade publications dates from 1922.)

dwallen
dwallen on March 30, 2012 at 9:06 pm

My Grandfather Max Krofta owned the Capital Theater, he also owned the Granada on the north side of Racine I never met Max, he died before I was born. My mother had several boxes of photos she guarded like gold, some I remember are of the Capital and Granada. If anyone is interested I will go through them and post them. Max also owned or managed the Abby in Milwaukee and perhaps the Milwaukee Granada.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on August 14, 2010 at 5:50 pm

bet was a beautiful single screen theatre.

lnckid
lnckid on April 18, 2010 at 8:24 am

I own a cinema in north WI and would love to help get the park going again. I grew up in the town and watched many movies there but I dont get back to Racine much anymore but I would if I could help get it going again. Who is working on the theatre still? Does anyone have a number and name of a contact? I went thru the park years ago when I was looking at theatres to buy. Last I heard the upstairs apts were being fixed up to rent out. Someone must know something up to date about the theatre. LMK please

LouRugani
LouRugani on February 8, 2008 at 6:58 am

The Capitol’s organ was relocated to a newer minimalist-styled playhouse built by a local amateur live-theater group on Northwestern Avenue.

Broan
Broan on September 30, 2007 at 4:51 pm

Photos of this theater are HERE

LouisRugani
LouisRugani on October 31, 2006 at 8:17 pm

A photo in the September 12th, 1987 Racine Journal Times shows the Capitol with the second, triangular Art Deco marquee and the original four-story vertical sign which was fully operational and in use until 1981. At the sign’s top was a capitol-like dome and twisted ropelike chasers down to the bottom, a real treat to see at night reminding all of the golden age of the great verticals.

The report said it was twinned in the fall of 1975 (270 seats/240 seats, each with a tiny screen) and was then sold to Milwaukee-based Marcus Corporation in 1981 for $50,000. Marcus, for reasons of its own, then renamed the Capitol the “Park I & II”, and that’s when the vertical ‘Capitol’ sign was removed.
Marcus closed the theatre on Labor Day, 1987, admitting to poor business.
For six years a second-run house, Marcus did experiment with some first-run fare there in its final summer.

mp775
mp775 on July 25, 2006 at 4:55 am

Is this renovation work proceeding? The marquee is advertising judo classes, and the lobby appears to be full of old cash registers.

cscheller
cscheller on November 17, 2004 at 11:19 am

I went to the movies at the Capitol when I was a kid. I think we saw Love Bug and Jungle Book when they first came out. I had worked at the Capitol during my high school days 1976-1977. The owner at the time was Frank? Carmichael – not sure on the spelling. He owned a theater in Kenosha and started publishing the Happenings magazine. I remember delivering those to various locations in West Racine. My main duty at the theater was janitor. I recall hauling the bags of popcorn and the soda canisters from Washington Ave up the entry way and then down the steep stairs into the basement. The projectionist once had me come upstairs and showed me the ornate lighting fixtures that were in between the original ceiling and the drop ceiling. Also, at one time, the fire marshall was about to shut down the operations because of all the junk “in the back”. Well, I was able to assist in cleaning out the area behind the twin screens …. what I saw back there was amazing. A stage area and rooms behind or under the stage. My dad later told me he had gone there as a boy to see vaudeville shows. I had been hoping someone would take on this project. I live in Houston, TX now but whenever I’m home I always stop by and peer into the windows. I did so this past July and it appeared work was going on in there but that it had been awhile. I’m sure there will be a good amount of interest in seeing this restored.

jpaye
jpaye on July 2, 2004 at 12:04 pm

Do you know if someone has been chose to do the restoration?

grant321
grant321 on June 21, 2004 at 2:45 pm

The Park was purchased in June of 2004 by the Westbury Group LLC, headed by a local man who is very much interested in theatre preservation. The theatre will be completely restored. Two store fronts adjoining the theatre will be incorporated into a much needed lobby and restroom expansion. The second floor apartments will become space for a new restaurant. When originally opened, the theatre was know as the Capitol, upon completion of the restoration it will be know as the “Capitol Theatre for the Performing Arts."
The reopening is scheduled for November 2005.