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Richland Center, WI: Photos Added for Center Cinema and Starlite 14 Drive-In

Posted on Thursday, January 19, 2023


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Theater photos Copyright © 2022, SVJ Designs, LLC. All rights reserved.

We had the opportunity to pass through Richland Center, Wisconsin this past summer, so we were able to take photos of the Center Cinema and Starlite 14 Drive-In!

Richland Center is located between La Crosse and Madison on Highway 14. The Center Cinema is located in town across from the Richland County Government Center and dates back to 1937. The drive-in is on the outskirts on the way to Madison and traces its lineage to its opening in 1952. 

The outlook for moviegoers in the area was a little grim a few years ago, however. Longtime owners Lisa and Bill Muth retired from the movie business and closed both theaters in September 2019. Both theaters were purchased in 2020 by Brent Montry and Holly and Tony Johnson. The timing of the purchase was especially good for fans of the drive-in, as it has a unique lease agreement with the landowner that would have ended if the theater remained closed for more than a year.

The Center Cinema's marquee definitely looked like it could use some tender loving care, and we hope that the new owners are able to restore it to its past glory some day. You can see the full array of photos of the outside and the lobby on the Photo Gallery page for the Center Cinema.

The drive-in has great road frontage, as you can see by the photo above and seventeen more that are on the Photo Gallery page for the Starlite 14 Drive-In. It's impossible to miss from Highway 14, as long as you're not distracted by the WalMart and the Culvers on the other side of the road. Its screen towers over the field and the rusted corrugated tin fence lends a vintage atmosphere when driving up to the ticket booth.

It was bright daylight when we stopped in, which is great for taking photos, but it also meant that we weren't able to take in a movie at either theater. Only ten drive-ins exist in Wisconsin at the time of this writing, so if you have a chance, be sure to check it out! Until it opens this year, you can enjoy a movie at the indoor location as well...

Theater photos Copyright © 2022, SVJ Designs, LLC. All rights reserved.



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