Miramar Theatre

2844 N. Oakland Avenue,
Milwaukee, WI 53211

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Miramar Theatre, Milwaukee, WI

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The Miramar Theatre opened around 1913 as the Miramar Movie House. The name was eventually changed to the Oakland Theatre. In 1954 this theatre switched to live performances and changed names many times. At one point this theatre had become a church and now its back to being a theatre again.

Contributed by Lost Memory

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

DavidHurlbutt
DavidHurlbutt on January 3, 2005 at 8:48 pm

In 1954 the Oakland became the Fred Miller Theater and it was converted to a theater in the round. Its first presentation was Sabrina Fair with Jeffrey Lynn as its star.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 3, 2005 at 9:04 pm

Film Daily Yearbooks give a seating capacity of the Oakland Theatre as 600 in 1941 and 684 in 1950.

In the Larry Widen and Judi Anderson book “Milwaukee Movie Palaces” (1986) the seating capacity of the Miramar/Oakland is given as 800 and the architect is named as George Ehlers.

The Operating years are correct as given above.

JimRankin
JimRankin on January 12, 2005 at 11:18 am

The name MIRAMAR is Spanish for ‘View of the sea’ and since there is no sea within view of the MIRAMAR theatre (it faces away from Lake Michigan, about ten blocks east of it) one can only speculate if the original owner had been to the communities named such in Florida or California, or the original in Italy. Nonetheless, the history given on the theatre’s current we site may vanish, so I take the liberty of reproducing it here:

“ PROVENANCE
The Miramar Theatre was built in 1913 as the Miramar movie house. Its name was eventually changed to the Oakland Theatre, and motion pictures continued to be shown through the late forties. In July of 1954, Drama Incorporated, under the chairmanship of Fred Miller, head of the Miller Brewing Company, entered into an agreement to rent the Oakland Theatre for what would eventually become The Milwaukee Repertory Theater. On September 16th 1954, The Milwaukee Journal announced that the name selected through a "name-the-theatre” contest was the “Milwaukee City Circle”. The new name however was never used. Tragically, Fred Miller was killed in a small plane crash in December of that year, and the board of directors for Drama Inc. voted to name the theatre The Frederick C. Miller Memorial Theatre. The Fred Miller Theatre opened its doors January 25th, 1955.

The Fred Miller Theatre began operation under what is known as the star system. Throughout the fifties, show business luminaries such as Geraldine Brooks, Edward Everett Horton, Sylvia Sidney, Eva LeGallienne, John Kerr, Gloria Grahame, Geraldine Page, Uta Hagen, John Ireland, Fay Bainter, Monique Van Vooren and many others trod the Oakland Avenue boards. In 1969, after 138 productions, The Milwaukee Repertory Theater moved to the Todd Wehr Theater in the new Performing Arts Center downtown.

Throughout the better portion of the 1970’s the theatre was the J. Pellman Theatre, a star vehicle venue for musicals and other productions featuring stars such as Mickey Rooney, Rita Moreno, John Astin, Patty Duke, Bernadette Peters, Robet Horton, and Guy Madison, as well as the site for boxing and wrestling matches!

In the late 1970’s, until 1981, the theatre became the Metropole Nightclub, featuring numerous rock acts. The Eastbrook Church purchased the building in 1983, only two days away from its scheduled demolition, and considerably repaired and remodeled what had become exceedingly run-down. In 1995, the congregation of Eastbrook Church had grown to such an extent that it became necessary to move to larger quarters. Even though attempts were made to sell the property to some smaller religious organizations, for the most part, the theatre stood empty for three years.

In October of 1998,William Stace of Walls Have Ears Studios, and his wife Pamela Brown Stace of Amethyst Productions purchased the building with the intent of housing both the new Walls Have Ears recording Studio, as well as the theatre, which would become not only the home of Amethyst Productions, but a rental venue for the performing arts."

JimRankin
JimRankin on March 25, 2005 at 8:18 am

The MIRAMAR has dire financial straits currently as disclosed in their news report here on CT at: http://cinematreasures.org/news/12937_0_1_0_C/
Perhaps an ‘angel’ will appear before the May deadline.

It should be noted that this theatre was never a movie palace, and that the interior that existed at opening no longer exists and today contains virtually no decor. It cannot be claimed as an architectural icon, but it does have local historical and usefulness merits.

MiltonSmith
MiltonSmith on October 25, 2012 at 3:56 am

I would say they got past that bump in the road as here it is, 7 years later and its still open.

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