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Anyone visiting this site will be able to see the remainder of light posts that lighted the area. When it was in operation, the sign facing the HWY 41, was on the back of the original screen. The sign was all in neon and flashed the symbol of a star, very large taking up half the streen height, surrounded by several smaller stars, then the words “Starlite Drive-in.”
Neighbors used to complain in the paper when an R rated flick was shown.
Currently, the Marquee is only a frame of metal and it seems the theater is empty. This is sad for me as this was a place where I saw a number of movies which are now classics.
Building Update… The roof on the west side has now deteriated to the point where you can see the beam work that makes up the structure. I noticed that several of the ‘vases’ at the corner of the building are also missing. Is it known if these were salvaged by Mr. Filardo?
Two more items that came to mind as I walked around the structure today (6/22/2004). In front of the house to the east of the building there was (at least in the 1970’s) a small building which acted as a popcorn stand. It was open most weekends. At that time the Venetian was a store and not a theater. They would pack the popcorn in small white bags which were very greasy by the time you got them home. The area is still noticeble as the walls at the base still exist.
The other memory was that during the time it was a store, and perhaps sometime before that. The front area between the two front doors of the store was faced in Brown and tan tile. These were small tiles, perhaps 1" square. I suspect they were added as part of the convertion to a store.
I grew up a few blocks from the Venetian when ‘Charlie’ ran Venetian Sales there. I also remember Steve in his (and my) younger years. I’m glad to hear Charlie is still alive and I hope well.
I always wanted to walk around the rest of the building. I recall the concession stand was the display for watches and the lobby was the main sales point. A curved staircase went from the lobby to what I presume was the balcony, but at that point, it was blocked off.
There were many visual points of the old theather still around back then. There were several face and body ‘sculptures’ in the corner of the lobby. 4 Large, heavy doors were the entrance points to the lobby from the street. When it was Venetian Sales, only the most western ones were usable. Between them in what my have been an update, there was a wall of 1" square tiles.
The cash register area was in front of the other one. Steve, I recall your uncle having a mechanical register which was more adding machine than register.
We purchased many items from “Charlies”, as we called Venetian Sales. My first camera and first watch for example. We used to by the daily paper there as well.
I too recall the marque that was there. The word Venetian was at the top and then the word “Sales” was added on the movable letter portion.
On the corner of 37th and center, in the building there was a printing shop which had a sign above it for “Sparkle Dog Shampoo”. I would stop and watch the presses work on my way into ‘Charlies’ to buy the newspaper. I have to say it was a great influence in my life path to work in printing/ graphics.
I remember mowing my parents lawn and seeing Steve and Charlie standing at the roof corner of the buildling one day.
To this day, I want to go into the building and look around. I understand it is not in great shape, which is sad. The history will be lost when it is gone, as well as a part of my life. But, still, to touch and see what is there would be a great gift, as this building is part of my history.
A few weeks ago, I stood across the street from this building – inspired to go there after seeing the movie “The Majestic”, thinking about The Venetain, and finding this site from a search for informaton on it – and was awed by the size, and how after all these years of neglect, The Venetian still stands and still looks good from the outside. The cross-hatch pattern on the fascade can still be seen. The colors in the corners are still there along with the ‘urns’ at each part of the corner decorations. Riots and time have not diminshed her beauty.
Even with the building not in use as a theather, it was still a vital part of the neighborhood and my life.
I am happy to see that the Venetian will live on at least in some form of history – if only electronic. I am sad that I will never be able to experience sitting in it seeing a movie, the light dim, the movie starts and the stars twinkle in the sky.. that must have been something to see…
Brown Deer, Wisconsin.