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» Cinematour Forum   » Cinemas and Theatres   » Granada Theater, Racine WI

Author Topic: Granada Theater, Racine WI
Tom Namowicz
New Member

Posts: 1
From: Racine, WI
Registered: Jul 2005

 - posted July 26, 2005 04:59 AM      Profile for Tom Namowicz   Email Tom Namowicz         Edit/Delete Post 
We would like to have any photos anyone may have of this theater. We are interested in restoring the theater and especially need photos of the front entry.

It's located at 1921 Charles St., just off Douglas Avenue near the intersection of Douglas and Charles.

It was built in 1928 and operated as a theater until 1961, when it became home to the Peter C. Beck & Co. Beck & Co. operated a wholesale house for tobacco and candy.

In 1928 four new theaters opened in Racine. The Venetian (Downtown), Capital (West Racine), Majestic (Uptown) and Granada (North Side)were all completed and opened with in the year.

Thank you

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Jim Rankin
(Jim passed away in December 2006)
Posts: 123
From: Milwaukee, WI
Registered: Oct 2003

 - posted July 26, 2005 09:43 AM      Profile for Jim Rankin   Email Jim Rankin         Edit/Delete Post 
The largest repository of photos of theatres in the world is the Archive of the Theatre Historical Soc. of America at: Look on their Archive link and you will be told how to contact them, though if you can get down to their HQ in Elmhurst, 15 miles west of Chicago BY APPOINTMENT, you may be able to go through what they have faster than by mail. They have many thousands of photos as well as blueprints and other data.

Of course, you should first check all local sources first, including the public libraries, the historical society, and even the local dept. of public works which often has files of photos of streets slated for road work, etc., and these often incidentally have views of nearby buildings. Of course, you would want to visit the city's building permits office which often has more than permits, but if no photos are found, there are often detailed descriptions and sometimes drawings of the marquee, etc.

Always check the opening day ads in newspapers on microfilm at libraries and note the names of the contractors, and if they are stll in existance, they may well have photos or drawings. Everbrite signs here in a Milwaukee suburb made marquees and Vertical signs for dozens of theatres back then, and they still have many of their records, as an example. Of course, tracking down the descendents of the original owners as well as the architects of the GRANADA may well yield keepsakes of photos or drawings. A local geneologist may well help you in this search, or contact Hugh Swofford at for such aid (he and his wife are also familiar with Racine and may know other sources). The thing to remember in contacting descendents, is to assure them that you only want to SEE their records, NOT take them. If they offer to sell them to you, fine, but otherwise offer to COPY their originals. Take along to any visit a hard side attache case to demonstrate your intentions to keep any photos or recores in pristine condition. If you can get a camera copy stand and lights to take photos of their photos on the spot, that is the best approach of all, since many widows if they will let you in at all, will not let you in twice. If you are going to see a lady, it is best to bring a woman along with you for reassurance to an older woman, and you would make this clear during your appointment phone call.

You might also phone or visit BY APPOINTMENT the Wis. Architectural Archive in Milw. at the Central Library off of the second floor of their rotunda. It is at 813 W. Wis. Ave., and the phone is: 414-286-3897. If you can give them the architect's name, it may well help locate blueprints, though it is unlikely that they have photos. With blueprints, any competent draftsman or architectural artist can produce a rendering of the building, though colors may not be accurate. Ask the Arch. Archive for reference to such a man.

The Wis. State Historical Society in Madison on the campus of UW, also has many hundreds of photos and may well have one of the Racine GRANADA, though not necessarily cataloged under that name. I spent a week there looking for materials on Milw's PABST, and found photos in many different files, often just listed as Milw. street views, etc. So if you have time, phone them for an appointment to visit and look for any file with theatre photos or about Racine.

Lastly, there are hundreds of private photo collections on the Web, and it can be rewarding to go to each search engine you can think of (eg: Google, Yahoo, Alta Vista, etc.) and type in the search term: 'GRANADA, Racine' and you may well find a reference to a photo that none of the official agencies know of. If the site has a separate PHOTOS search area, use that first, but not exclusively. Finding photos depends a lot upon figuring out how people filed them; by MARQUEE? by FACADE? by ADDRESS? by building type? by architect? by builder? by City View? by BUILDINGS:DATE? You would be surprised!

Also, don't forget to contact the American Theatre Organ Society ( which may be able to direct you to local experts such as Fred Hermes (of Hermes Insurnace in Racine) on Wind Point. He is not on-line but knows loads about Racine.

Best Wishes, and don't give up; such searches are often long term affairs! Jim Rankin, Milwaukee

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