was designed by Rapp & Rapp of Chicago (the firm also designed other
theaters located in the Wisconsin cities of Milwaukee, Madison, Racine and
Baraboo) and construction was completed by the Immel
Construction Co. of Fond du Lac in December, 1925. The theater opened to the
public Dec. 26, 1925, and closed as a movie house in 1998. The building was sold in 2000 and reopened for a time as the
Bravo Performing Arts Center. The property was sold again and the possibility
of a restoration project was mentioned at that time. In 2012, the property was listed for sale. A local developer has
an option to purchase the property and proposed a boutique hotel project for the site. The plan has
been revised and currently involves an
apartment and office project.
A group of local citizens have formed "Friends of the Retlaw
Theatre" to halt the developer's planned demolition of the auditorium,
and their website is SaveTheRetlaw.com. They also have a Facebook page and a fund-raising website.
This undated post card image looks north on Main Street in Fond du Lac, Wis.,
with the Retlaw Theater on the right. The Retlaw Hotel--built by Walter
Schroeder, the same real estate developer who built the theater--can be seen
further up the street, and the vertical sign of the Fond du Lac Theater is
visible about a half-block north of the hotel. Both theaters opened in the
latter part of 1925 and were about a city block apart. The buildings remain
standing in 2013, but the auditorium of the Fond du Lac theater has been
demolished, leaving only the lobby structure, retail space, and apartments
still standing. Both theaters' vertical signs were removed before the 1950s.
Updated July 2, 2014