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Tour a historic neighborhood theater

Small, independent movie theaters were once commonplace in Milwaukee's neighborhoods, and residents from most urban parts of the city lived within in walking distance of at least one "big screen."

This week, Managing Editor Bobby Tanzilo takes us to one of those shuttered theaters -- The Lyric -- just east of Washington Park on 38th and Vliet Streets.

The theater operated from 1917 to 1952 and is an example early 20th century Milwaukee culture, when the city's neighborhoods were more distinct.

"  went shopping downtown maybe a couple times a year, but really they supported the businesses in their neighborhood," Tanzilo said in our interview. "There were these thriving strips of retail businesses that you don't really see as much anymore." 

After the theater closed, it was converted to a retail space, where it was home to a longtime neighborhood carpet store.  Now, it has changed owners and is closed to the public, and while there are no plans for demolition, the owner does not plan to reopen it as a theater, Tanzilo said.

Click the player above the photos to hear highlights from our conversation, or click the Soundcloud player below to hear the entire interview.

And check be sure to out Tanzilo's story on



Director of Digital Content | Radio Milwaukee