Peek inside
a shuttered movie palace

Peek inside
a shuttered movie palace

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88Nine Radio Milwaukee
Go Urban Spelunking at the Tower Theater on 27th and Wells

Milwaukee's Tower Theater

You wouldn’t know it from the outside, but a modest building on 27th and Wells St. was once home to an iconic Milwaukee movie palace, with interior majesty on par with the East Side’s Oriental Theater.

The Tower Theater opened in 1926, a time when most neighborhoods in Milwaukee seemed to have their own theater within walking distance.  Americans consumed media differently then; without television, the theater was the primary mainstream entertainment option.

Moviegoers often would spend full afternoons at the theater, taking in a newsreel or two before the show began, said OnMilwaukee’s Bobby Tanzilo in our interview.

But the Tower was a much more luxurious place to spend an afternoon than a typical neighborhood theater.  Designed by the same architects as the Oriental, it boasted many the same kinds of ornate detail work throughout the 1,600 seat venue.  Amazing plasterwork, arched windows and doorways, and intricate carvings still adorn the now vacant building, which closed to the public in 1975.

But new ownership hopes to bring new purpose to the building, Tanzilo said.

Click the podcast player above the photos to hear our interview plus follow this link to read the article in its entirety.