“The renovations are really amazing:” New life for Bay View’s Avalon Theatre

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Run down, in disrepair, it hadn't shown a movie in 14 years. The history Avalon Theatre is back in Bay View and Monday, December 15th they welcomes the first movie-goers in a long time.

The city was a big player in resurrecting the theatre, but it took years to finally begin restoration. And some of that work, still happening even as the house lights dimmed and the picture rolled.

It's Elizabeth Konetz second day on the job for the Avalon's first show in 14 years. Konetz is excited to be a part of this story.

"We're just kind of scrambling to get things together. It took a lot of preparation beforehand, a lot of cleaning up," said Konetz.

The Avalon Theatre has been in perpetual previews for the past 10 years. John Brannan has the background story.

"1929 is when the Avalon was built and where you are placed here is on the Mediterranean. You're supposed to be in Grenada, Spain, as you're sitting here in the Avalon," said John Brannan, with Neighborhood Theatre Group.

The theatre closed in 2000 but a new owner in 2005 vowed to bring it back. And that's when the city decided to play the role of Hollywood producer.

"We came up with hundreds of thousands of dollars and it was worth it," said Alderman Tony Zielinski.

The theatre was in development for the better part of a decade. The new Avalon has been in production for the last 12 months.

"Trying to keep as much as the original look as possible. The concession stand is where the concession stand is. The villas inside the auditorium are where they are, we just took them and made them better," said Stacie Hojnacki, with Ascend Design.

The original theatre featured a star lit ceiling. Renovations traded glass light bulbs for LED's.

"I think the renovations are really amazing. I think the theatre has a nice feel to it. Very, very comfortable," said Ryan Bertleson, movie goer.

The theatre held a soft opening today, and the grand opening is coming on Thursday, December 18th. The owners of the Avalon are hoping this theatre's re-release has a long run.

"We're very much going to listen to the community on what they want this theatre to be," said Brannan.

And no movie-house is complete without a big, lighted, marquee -- that is on it's way, scheduled to be installed on Wednesday!

4 comments

      • PissedoffinAZ

        Thanks, guys. I was hyperventilating at the second error. Nobody knows how hard we grammar and spelling police have it!
        As a native Milwaukeean, I am really excited to see my favorite childhood theatre being restored as much as renovated. Here in the Phoenix area, they tore the Cine Capri down and relocated, keeping just the entryway to the façade. A feeble more than noble gesture. I look forward to seeing a movie at the Avalon one day not too far in the future.

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