212 W Wisconsin Ave
Also known as: Centre, Grand
May 1931 photo from the Jim Rankin collection.
WARNER THEATRE, Milwaukee at opening: May 1931 by Albert Kuhli.
View of Auditorium from balcony. Note bright light obtained without glare from ten ceiling domes behind grilles plus two chandeliers, 16 sconces, plus under balcony (soffit) coves and fixtures, plus proscenium cove and three groups of lights in both organ screens. All lights were on separate dimmers for each group and coves were in the three colors: red, blue and yellow obtained through stained glass roundels. Perhaps a thousand bulbs of different wattages are lit in this view. I only once saw it lit to this extent and the effect of the white light produced by all those mixed colors was very warm and rich!
DRAPERIES in proscenium arch are: GRAND DRAPE at top consisting of 3 swags plus flanking legs in dark red velour with gold bullion-style fringe, with intricate appliqued Border on three sides of it. Below it and attached is flat Lambrequin panel of honey crushed velvet finished in bullion-style fringe to match swags. Grayish looking ornaments upon the drapery are Pendants of 1-inch plywood covered in padded pearl gray satin (to better reflect the various colors of flood lights cast upon them) studded with small squares of mirrored glass set in tiny brass frames, with hand painting of surrounding shadings. Hanging from the six Pendants (which are in 3 different styles) are 19 Drops, in addition to 15 large Tassels upon the swags. This entire curtain was unmoveable, and was tied to a heavy steel framework suspended from a locked winch in the auditorium attic. ACT CURTAIN: The light colored curtain below and within the Portal is not the House Curtain. It is an act curtain apparently in use as a Picture Sheet (screen) cover. There is a drapery LEG to the right of it as part of a Border curtain above and out of sight here, and also downstage of it is the right leg of the TORMENTORS done in the same dark red velour with golden fringe at bottom. The HOUSE CURTAIN is flown up out of sight behind the Grand Drape, and as revealed when it was lowered in 1970, it was of the same dark red velour of the Grand Drape swags' velour, but was not ornamented aside from box pleats in it running top to bottom about every three feet of the entire expanse, each pleat was about 3 inches wide and when it met the header of the continuous, golden, 18-inch deep, bullion-style fringe along the entire bottom edge of the House Curtain, they placed a 4-inch diameter ROSETTE of golden gimp to effect the look of the body of a tassel. All these draperies and trimmings were of lustrous rayon over cotton backings. The HOUSE CURTAIN was a guillotine-action that did not open in the middle, and was weighted its whole width by a 2-inch diameter steel pipe along its bottom backside. A push button control panel for the House Curtain, Teaser and Tormentor curtains as well as the black velvet Masking was both on stage right next to the Dimmer Board as well as in the projection room wall below the portals. This was in the form of black engraved brass plates with mother-of-pearl insets for 'Up' and 'Down' push buttons.
ORGAN CONSOLE at left in Orchestra Pit is on worm screw lift that could rise to stage level by push button. Pipe Organ was a Kimball brand of three manuals and 28 ranks (voices) with thousands of pipes in three chambers, two on left side, one on right, all behind freestanding arches fronting recessed Organ Screens. Screens below triple dark red velour swags, were pale golden fabric mesh with architects' signature sun burst rays appliqued in silver satin. Whitish 'spots' seen on right Screen were aluminum 'Stars' centered with glass jewels. Pit was to have a motorized lift, but such was never installed though provision was made for possible latter-day installation.
ORNATE SEAT STANDARDS were polychromed and illuminated cast iron in a Beaux Arts cornucopia design in high relief. They were replaced in a 1950s reseating. Upholstery was mohair in light and dark stripes on innersprings.