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The boarded-up secrets inside the Downer Theater

It's the area's longest continuously operating movie theater -- the Downer Theater on Milwaukee's East Side. And this year it celebrates it's 100th anniversary.'s Bobby Tanzilo takes us for a visit inside the neighborhood staple, where remnants from its past exist alongside a few modern updates.

Built in 1915, the Downer originally opened as a single-screen 1,000 seat venue.  A stage and orchestra pit -- both of which still exist -- sat beneath its giant screen.

Since silent movies were the norm, musical accompaniment was needed to heighten the experience for patrons. And the Downer had all -- an organist or pianist would perform alongside the movie.  Sometimes moviegoers were even treated to full orchestral accompaniment.

Today the Downer is split into two smaller theaters, both showing a not-so-mainstream mix of current feature films and documentaries.  It is also popular destination during the Milwaukee Film Festival.

But like many century-old buildings, it has its share features the public would never see.  Walled off rooms and secret doors are hidden from view, but Bobby had a chance to explore and take a few pictures.

Click the podcast player above to hear our conversation, and follow this link to read the OnMilwaukee story and see the rest of the pictures.

Director of Digital Content | Radio Milwaukee