Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Times Cinema, Larry Widen, and the beginings of my theater artifacts collection

 I have had a lifelong love of old buildings.  Growing up in Milwaukee gave me ample opportunity to find, explore, and learn about anything from old neighborhood houses, to sprawling brewery complexes, the backrooms of the MECCA,and Gran Avenue Mall....and of course the many theaters all over the city.

A few days ago I stumbled across the news that 2 Milwaukee area institutions were closing; The Times, and Rosebud Theaters.  Though I have been out of the city for 12 years now (!), I have spent many fun filled hours in both of these fine establishments.

To cut this part of the story down, I contacted legendary Milwaukee theater guru Larry Widen to send my condolences on the closings, and mentioned a piece of an old theater that was displayed at the Times.   It just so happens that the piece was for sale!!!  With a few emails back and forth we setup a time to meet this morning.  I honestly felt like a kid waiting for Christmas morning.  We arrive at the Times, and Larry, and 2 helpers already have the piece is already taken off, and halfway down the wall (we did indeed luck sincere thanks to all).  I go to pull the van over in front to load it into the trailer.  After that is done we go back and inside and start chatting.  I brought his newest theater book with he, and he happily personalized it for me;

Silver Screens: A Pictorial History of Milwaukee's Movie Theaters

( )

It was a blast talking with someone so knowledgeable about one of my (our) passions.  There's so many stories to hear, and information to learn.  At the same time we wander thru the Times, talking...while I snap pictures all over, listening to cool stories, and just taking the whole experience in. 

the main item I initially went for is:

Milwaukee Egyptian Theater Artifact

On top of that Larry had many more items of interest:

A piece (well 2) of the Princess Theater facade:

A piece of the "columns" from the facade of the Venetian Theater:

A piece of the floor(?) from the Uptown Theater

Curtains from the Riverside Theater:

Some Times Theater glasses, 35mm movie trailers, and some of the bathroom wall decorations:

My copy of Larry's AWESOME book personalized by the MAN himself with a message that is just to true:

Additional pictures of the Times cinema, and more fun from today's trip (click the link below)   :)

Times Cinema pics, and Milwaukee theater artifacts

A HEARTFELT thank you to the 2 gentlemen that helped take down, and load the Egyptian piece,  Larry's brother, and most of all to Mr Larry Widen...a true gentleman, and a scholar.

In the coming months I plan to expand on the history of all the above mentioned lost theaters (save the remaining Riverside).  I hope to obtain pictures, and info to share, and do my part to help preserve the memory of these lost movie houses.


  1. Very nice collection man, thanks for sharing the story and pics. Congrats on all the cool stuff you collected so far.

  2. Such a nice post! It's sad that all the old theaters are gone but it's great to see that people like you really care. :))