Delavan Theatre

405 E. Walworth Avenue,
Delavan, WI 53115

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Carmike Cinemas, Standard Theaters Management Corp., Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp.

Architects: John Wolf

Styles: Atmospheric, Spanish Renaissance

Previous Names: Delavan 1 & 2 Theatre

Nearby Theaters

Delevan Theatre...Delevan Wisconsin

This was a charming Atmospheric style small-town theatre, at the east edge of the downtown business district on busy Wisconsin State Highway 11. The Delavan Theatre was opened in spring of 1929. Through the 1960’s it retained its original appearance, with its rectangular marquee and classic chaser-lighted vertical sign. It was twinned in 1968 and the stage house was demolished at that time. But by the 1970’s much of the lower façade was redone in the current simplistic style of that age, exterior ornament was removed, and its 1929 exterior charm was largely gone.

In 1999, newspapers reported that theatre operator Carmike Cinemas was sued by Standard Theatres of Brookfield, Wisconsin (which no longer operated theatres) for leaving the Delavan Theatre in unsatisfactory condition after vacating its tenancy.

After being listed on the real-estate market for some time, the Delavan Theatre was sold in about 2006 to the River Of Life Christian Church of Williams Bay, Wisconsin. They assembled some historic photos of the Delavan Theatre on its website, including construction photos and interior scenes. By early-2020, the church had vacated the building and moved on to 1220 S. Shore Drive.

Contributed by Louis Rugani

Recent comments (view all 8 comments)

kencmcintyre on November 14, 2008 at 4:39 pm

Here is a view of the church from Google maps:

kencmcintyre on November 28, 2009 at 3:22 pm

Here is a better view of the 11/14/08 photo:

LouisRugani on January 14, 2010 at 2:56 pm


Irwin Stephan, 36, was killed Thursday afternoon when his car collided with a freight train at a crossing in Delavan. Stephan, married and the father of four, came here six weeks ago from Palmyra (Jefferson County) to manage the Delavan movie theatre.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 22, 2010 at 1:20 pm

Manager of this theatre quits after protest on Italian film Bitter Rice.
Article in Boxoffice magazine, July 7, 1951:
View link

[For the record, Bitter Rice is now considered a major Italian film classic and even appeared on an Italian postage stamp commemorating the films of the Italian neo-realist period after World War II.]

LouisRugani on August 11, 2010 at 3:35 pm

(Janesville Gazette, September 26, 1969)
ELKHORN â€" Daniel F. Kelliher, 87, a native of Mt. Horeb and operator of the Sprague Theater here for 47 years, died at home Thursday September 25. Mr. Kelliher operated a movie theater at Mt. Horeb for 11 years. He bought a theater here in 1922 and later built the Sprague Theater, which he operated until his retirement. Mr. Kelliher also had operated theaters in Lake Geneva, Delavan, East Troy, and Burlington. He has been credited for holding the state record for longtime theater operation. The funeral will be at 10 a.m. Saturday in St. Patrick’s Catholic Church here. Friends may call at the Murray funeral home here after 4 p.m. today. He is survived by his wife, Luella.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 7, 2018 at 7:54 pm

The “New Theaters” column in The Film Daily of March 12, 1929, said: “Delavan, Wis. — Construction of the new
Delavan is nearing completion.”

There is surprisingly little about this theater in the trade journals. In the 1940s it was a Warner Bros. house, and in 1949 the manager was named Bud Campbell, and that’s all I’ve found.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 18, 2021 at 10:21 pm

The NRHP nomination form for the Delavan Downtown Commercial Historic District says that the Delavan Theatre was designed by Milwaukee architect John Wolf. The twinning took place in 1978, and the stage house the theater originally sported was demolished at that time.

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