Terra Cotta from Venetian Theatre

posted by gkfilardo on April 16, 2007 at 4:45 am

MILWAUKEE, WI — Did anyone save any of the terra-cotta from the Venetian? Unfortunately with today’s sue happy society, most wreckers will not let people on site.

Fortunately back in 1990 when the Parkway Theatre (Milwaukee) was torn down, I was able to purchase salvage rites to the theatre. I gathered up anyone I could find and we took down the entire facade and adjoining business section consisting of over 3000 pieces of terra-cotta all chiseled out by hand. Now it awaits a second showing at a site yet undetermined. I even have the original blueprints from 1921.

In the mid 1980’s the owner of the Venetian sold off the interior lady lobby statues. A dealer in Denver purchased four and I purchased the other one. Fortunately they were removed otherwise they would be crushed surely. I will post photos later. Greg F.

Theaters in this post

Comments (3)

GaryParks on April 16, 2007 at 5:19 pm

Yeah, our doggone sue-happy society. That’s why I and one friend who’s in the architectural salvage business have numerous times, after exhausting official channels, waited for Sunday in the early morning, hopped fences, and taken what would otherwise have been destroyed. Because of this, light fixtures and ornamental plaster from several San Francisco theatres gutted for condos now have found second life—beautifully restored—lighting and decorating several Bay Area homes…including our own. To be fair, though, some property owners were perfectly happy to have my friend sign a waiver, and then for a fairly low purchase price, let him remove what he wanted.

senk1198 on April 16, 2007 at 5:20 pm

Hi There, Greg—

Yes, there indeed was a significant amount of the Venetian’s terra-cotta trim saved—just check the recent postings at the Cinema Treasures Web page on the Venetian at /theaters/2464 There are plenty of pertinent links to photographs of various pieces as well as one to Urban Remains, a Chicago-based firm dealing in various kinds of architectural remnants.

Looking forward to your photos of what you saved—with gratitude from all who love and care about preserving our movie-palace history—

Scott Enk

fredash on April 24, 2007 at 12:28 pm

Mr. Filardo
Is your Parkway Theater facade available? A Chicago area museum is seeking an entire theater facade and marquee, hopefully by donation, for incorporation into a historic street scene. As preservationists themselves, it has been difficult to approach developers or salvage companies, as they do not wish to encourage demolition. The intent is to recreate a 1950’s street scene with two-story salvaged facades attached to a new visitors center. Several complete buildings have already been moved to site, with some architectural and engineering work already in progress.

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