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Uptown (Majestic) Theatre

October 4, 2012

View of the auditorium from the balcony.

The Uptown Theatre opened as the Majestic Theatre on May 2, 1928 in Racine, Wisconsin. The 1,300 seat theater was designed by local architect B. Wade Denham for owner Ernst Klinkert. The interior was designed in the Gothic style — as many theaters at the time were in the Adamesque style, Gothic, a style usually used in churches, was an unusual choice. Denham was praised for using a hillside location to achieve full stage visibility from any seat in the auditorium. In addition to the theater itself, the building also had eight apartments to house the actors when the theater was showing plays and musicals. The Majestic closed in 1930, two years after it opened.

View of the auditorium from the side of the balcony.

The theater reopened in 1940 as the Uptown Theatre, named after the area of Racine where the theater was built. It closed again in 1953, reopened the next year and closed permanently in late December of 1959. Only the retail spaces in the front of the building have been used continuously. Over the years the exterior of the theater was altered and the Gothic style was altered.  

The proscenium arch was decorated with coats of arms and a mural.

The Uptown was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. The Uptown Theater Group, a non-profit organization, was formed in 2001 to try to restore the theater. Plans called for the theater to be used as a performing arts center. The Group started a haunted house called the “Haunted Theater” to try to raise funds for the restoration. In early November of 2002, a fundraising party held at a local banquet hall was broken up by local police due to tips that drugs were being sold at the event. Some say that this incident discredited the Group, which prevented it from achieving its fundraising goals. The Uptown Theatre remains abandoned, and no plans are in development for its restoration.

The lobby is currently used for storage.

All of the seats on the main level were removed in the 1960s.

A close-up of plaster work above the entrance to the auditorium.

The upper hallway was converted into an apartment after the theater closed.

One of the organ chambers complete with Gothic style plasterwork.

A close-up of the proscenium arch.

Another view of the auditorium from the balcony.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 4, 2012 12:01 pm

    What a beautiful space, I hope someone will take it on and restore it someday. It would be a shame to lose it.

  2. October 19, 2012 4:43 am

    I hope too…

  3. November 29, 2012 4:31 pm

    I hope someone takes this and restore it

  4. borgsng permalink
    November 29, 2012 4:32 pm

    Nice space to restore

  5. Raymond permalink
    November 30, 2013 5:05 pm

    It’s in a very depressed neighborhood. I’ve been in the Majestic since it was closed and it looked much worse than this. I hope that these pictures are newer and show that it has been cleaned up some.

    • December 1, 2013 10:09 am

      Raymond,

      The pictures are a few years old now, so it may have been cleaned up since you were there.

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