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West Allis, WI: OnMilwaukee Tours the Former Paradise Theatre

Posted on Thursday, February 29, 2024 10:18 AM

Theater photo

The Paradise Theatre in West Allis, Wisconsin hasn't shown movies since it closed in 1996, but that doesn't mean that it's in disrepair or has been demolished. Rather than that depressing fate faced by so many historic theaters around the country, the Paradise has found its future in serving as a church.

Movie theaters work pretty well as church environments, as the seating on sloped floors and, in the case of many historic theaters, stages, make them useful for the needs of a church service. In the case of the Paradise Theatre, it was purchased in 2011 by Epikos Church and is still being used as a church today.

OnMilwaukee's Bobby Tanzilo recently published an article about his visit to the former theater in his excellent Urban Spelunking series: Urban spelunking: Look inside old West Allis Paradise Theater, now Epikos church. The article covers the history of the theater, what it was like for the new owners when they took over, and it includes photos of the interior. Those photos show that the church has adapted the theater to its needs, while also doing a very good job of retaining the character of the historic building.

I haven't seen the inside of the Paradise Theatre since right before it closed, and it was good to see so many of its elements intact. I would love to see a classic movie in the former Paradise Theatre again, back on the screen that still hangs in the flyspace over the stage!

The article mentions that the building is open to the public on Sunday mornings, when services are held at 9am and 11am.

While we don't have any interior photos of the Paradise Theatre, we do have exterior photos that were taken a few years ago, which you can see in the Photo Gallery for the theater.



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