Milwaukee's oldest operating movie theater is celebrating its 100th anniversary. Opened on December 3rd 1915, the Downer Theatre was the standard "neighborhood theater" as opposed to a movie palace (see The Oriental), with a seating capacity of 1,200.
Costing $65,000 to build, amounting to just over $1.5 million today, it had only one screen, and was also equipped with a Weickhardt pipe organ as well as an orchestra (people saw movies in style, back then).
In the early 1990's it reopened its doors after renovations were made. It was turned into a "twin-screener," that now seats around 200 and 270 in its respective screen houses. With molding, lights, and carpeting that were true to 1915 decor, the Downer Theatre is one of Milwaukee's more charming spots to catch a flick. Located on Milwaukee's East Side the theatre often features independent and foreign films.
On December 10th the Downer will be holding an official celebration for its centennial by showing The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, a horror silent movie reminiscent of the theatre's early days. Tickets are on sale now at The Downer Theatre website.