Retlaw Theater
Fond du Lac, Wis.

 

The Retlaw 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


1960 Photos | 1961 Photos | 1962 Photos | 2008 Photos |


What do you know?

Please e-mail nlenburg@charter.net if you have information about the history--or future--of the Retlaw, or photos to share.

Copyright 2008-2014, Norman Lenburg