Rivoli Theatre

117 N. 4th Street,
La Crosse, WI 54601

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Rivoli Theater prior to the lighted marquee

Opened September 19, 1920 with a vaudeville program, the Rivoli Theatre was designed by architects Bernard Dockendorff and A.E. Parkinson in a Spanish style in an ‘Atmospheric’ garden setting. It was equipped with a Page organ that was opened by organist Walter Goetzinger. The following day it screened its first movie, Norma Talmadge in “Yes or No”. In 1926 it was enlarged, adding a balcony and enlarging the stage. It was closed in 1986.

It was reopened on April 15, 1994. Now somewhat run-down, the Rivoli Theatre still operates as a movie theatre. Thankfully, its original interior architecture is still present and in good condition.

The Rivoli Theatre’s second screen opened on June 25, 1999 and is located in a former lounge.

Locals know the theatre as being a great place to grab a movie, pizza, and a beverage.

Contributed by Doug Holtz

Recent comments (view all 12 comments)

DennisParker
DennisParker on February 21, 2005 at 9:10 am

Doug Holtz,
Do you live in Lacrosse? We are trying to find some history and possible old pictures of the Rivoli. Any ideas on sources in Lacrosse to check?

Thanks, Parker

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on October 23, 2006 at 1:56 pm

There is a listing for the Rivoli in this 1922 issue of the La Crosse Tribune:
http://tinyurl.com/yg9auu

KJB2012
KJB2012 on December 20, 2010 at 12:15 pm

I see that back in ‘04, right wingers were bent at the theatre posting a political sign. Chill out.
I’d attend a cinema even if they had a “Tea Party” sign out front. But then I support Free speech, even speech I disagree with.

davidheymuldoon
davidheymuldoon on December 4, 2012 at 3:07 am

here’s some of the movies i saw at the rivoli in ‘50’s and '60’s: red skys over montana,> journey to the seventh planet,> the seventh voyage of sinbad,> baby, the rain must fall (steve mcqueen),> who’s afraid of virginia woolf? (liz taylor and richard burton),>the graduate (dustin hoffman),> blow up (david hemmings),> goodbye columbus,> the prime of miss jean brody,> the lion in winter (katherine hepburn), to sir with love (sidney poitier and lulu),> alfie (michael caine),>georgie girl,> having a wild weekend (the dave clark 5),>far from the madding crowd ( terrance stamp),> joanna (michael sarne, director),> bullitt (steve mcqueen),> butch cassidy and the sundance kid ( paul newman, robt redford),> bigfoot (starring bigfoot), >barbarella (jane fonda),> rosemary’s baby (mia farrow, john cassevettes), harold and maud (ruth gordon, bud cort),> and the worst movie i have ever seen: ilsa, she wolf of the SS (starring nobody you ever heard of)

LouRugani
LouRugani on December 20, 2013 at 5:21 pm

The Rivoli, La Crosse’s well-known downtown theatre, had its grand opening on September 19, 1920. The Rivoli’s sister theater, the Riviera, opened one month later at 1207-1215 Caledonia St. Both were designed by the La Crosse architectural firm of Parkinson & Dockendorff with interiors designed by Odin Oyen of La Crosse. Each had its own management: the Rivoli by the La Crosse Theater Co., the Riviera by the Cooper Amusement Co.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 14, 2017 at 10:41 am

The Rivoli, originally a single-floor theater with a small stage, was expanded with a balcony and larger stage to accommodate road shows in 1926, according to this article from The Moving Picture World of April 10 that year:

“Remodelling La Crosse Rivoli At Cost of Over $100,000

“P L. KOPPELBERGER, general manager of La Crosse Theatres Company, La Crosse. Wisconsin, sends YOUR EQUIPMENT a personal letter explaining the changes to come about in that live wire company’s Rivoli Theatre.

“‘The Rivoli,’ says Mr. Koppelberger, ‘was constructed in 1920 and cost $300,000.’

“‘The conversion into a playhouse able to accommodate road shows and other attractions, as well as photoplays, will cost $100,000 and more.’

“The plans for the conversion of the house include the enlarging of the stage, to be fully and completely equipped, bringing the proscenium twenty feet further forward and adding a fly loft above it.

“A balcony will be added in the auditorium, increasing the seating capacity. Two thousand seats will be the eventual capacity of the theatre.

“In every detail the equipment will be of the finest and latest pattern.”

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on July 27, 2018 at 4:52 am

A recent photo of the theater can be seen here https://www.flickr.com/photos/139006479@N05/42862546474/in/pool-82838546@N00/

rivest266
rivest266 on January 16, 2019 at 3:39 pm

The 2nd screen, the Screening Room opened on June 25th, 1999. Grand opening ad posted.

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