Columbia Theatre

2220-2222 63rd Street,
Kenosha, WI 53140

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COLUMBIA Theatre; Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The Columbia Theatre was an early photoplay house which opened November 26, 1913. It was the only theatre ever to serve the Uptown Kenosha business district, and it never converted to sound films. It was a family-operated showplace with a then-typical arched entrance façade. On April 26, 1923 it was equipped with a Barton 3 manual 15 ranks organ. Little is known of the Columbia Theatre and photographs are rare.

It seems to have closed on May 23, 1929 with Mary Carr in “Some Mothers Boy”. It was at that time when the production of silent films came to a halt, and it was converted to an upscale restaurant, the Ambrose Fine Foods. It was destroyed by fire in the very early-1960’s and the property was leveled to create a parking lot for a nearby bank.

Contributed by Louis Rugani

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

LouisRugani on October 9, 2009 at 6:24 pm

(Racine Journal, August 22, 1907)
Russel Armstrong of Grand Ave., will leave Saturday to begin an engagement next week at the Columbia theater in Kenosha.

LouRugani on December 9, 2011 at 8:12 pm

The COLUMBIA Theatre in Kenosha noted here opened on Wednesday, November 26, 1913 and seated 500, according to local newspaper accounts. There may have been a short-lived storefront theatre known as the Columbia Theatre elsewhere in Kenosha before that date.

LouRugani on April 2, 2018 at 11:19 pm

(Motion Picture World, 1915): H. C. Luedtke, former owner of the Star theater, Waukegan, Ill., purchased the Columbia theater in Kenosha, Wis. about a month ago from Charles Staehle. The Columbia seats 550 people and charges 5 and 10 cents admission for programs of four and six reels of Mutual service. Mr. Luedtke stated that he is running “The Diamond from the Sky” to very good business. “The Christian” was shown recently for 10 cents to capacity houses. Mr. Luedtke is figuring on installing a balcony soon.

LouRugani on September 28, 2020 at 6:26 pm

NEW THEATRE OPENS – New Columbia Theatre on Elizabeth St Opens to Public Thursday – The new Columbia Theatre, located on Elizabeth street just west of Howland avenue, was opened to the public for the first time yesterday. No pains have been spared to make the new theatre the neatest and most attractive motion picture theatre in the city. Thoroughly ventilated, well heated and lighted, showing the best of motion pictures, it promises to become a popular place for lovers of good pictures. The theatre has a seating capacity of 500 and every seat in the house is a desirable one, giving a perfect view of the screen. (Kenosha News, Kenosha, Wisconsin, 28 Nov 1913, Fri. Page 9)

dallasmovietheaters on February 22, 2023 at 8:25 am

Likely because the Orpheum had a well-publicized Barton organ at its 1922 launch, the Columbia inaugurated its pipe organ music with a Barton instrument on April 26, 1923 (ad in photos). The Columbia Theatre had closed as a silent house on May 23, 1929 with Mary Carr in “Some Mother’s Boy.”

Tracing the history of the instrument, it was sold to a private individual in 1929 “very cheap” through a classified ad. That individual, Mary Dillenback, then donated it for its next installation at the Lake Geneva Methodist Church in 1932.

Tracing the post-Columbia Theatre, it was transformed to the Hub Grill, a venue that had live bands, dancing and dining from 1930 to 1942. In 1942, it became Tony Ambrose’s Keyhole Club. In 1953, it became Ambrose Fine Foods and Bar.

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