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Milwaukee, WI: Historian Larry Widen on the History of the Princess Theater

Posted on Monday, February 13, 2023 10:50 AM and updated on Monday, February 13, 2023 5:12 PM

Photo by Larry Widen

The Princess Theater in Milwaukee, Wisconsin no longer exists. Located on North 3rd Street (now known as North Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive) between Wells Street and Wisconsin Avenue, the historic theater dated back to 1904 when it opened as the Grand Theater (not to be confused with what is now known as the Bradley Symphony Center - Warner Grand Theatre).

Following its demolition in 1984, the space formerly occupied by the movie theater is now an alley and parking lot. This is a story found often in cities across the United States. So much so, that it has become part of our nation's legacy of showing little regard for the past in the service of so-called progress.

Historian Larry Widen wrote an article that was published recently in the Shepherd Express that covers the history of the Princess Theater that is well worth reading:

When a demolition crew knocked the Princess theater down in 1984, one of Milwaukee’s oldest movie houses was reduced to a vacant lot in less than a month. On the decline since the mid-1950s, the Princess no longer belonged in a Downtown that was in the process of revitalization. But the theater had an unusual backstory in which a local brewery, movie tycoons, and the President of the United States all played a part.

Click the Read link below to view the full article.

Photo above of the Princess Theater demolition in 1984 by Larry Widen.

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