Pabst Theater


Click the image to learn more. Hand stringing 33,000 inches of Austrian lead crystal for a chandelier in the Pabst Theater.

Brewer Frederick Pabst ordered the construction of the Pabst Theater in 1895 after fire destroyed the Stadt Theater.[1] Located at 144 E. Wells St.,[2] the 1,339-seat venue hosts a variety of performing arts events.[3] A visual reminder of the Milwaukee’s German influence,[4] the Pabst Theater became a city landmark in 1967 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.[5]

The Pabst family owned the theater until 1953, when they sold it to the Pabst Theater Foundation.[6] The Common Council of Milwaukee bought it in 1961, although the Foundation continued to manage operations until 1969.[7] The Performing Arts Center’s opening[8] and the Pabst Theater Board’s refusal to negotiate with unionized stagehands[9] led to the theater’s closure in 1969. The city took direct control of its management.[10] Its historical designations, paired with preservation support from Mayor HENRY MAIER and Frederick Pabst’s descendant, August U. Pabst, saved the theater from demolition.[11]

Architect Otto Strack[12] incorporated a number of innovative safety measures such as fireproofing, air conditioning, and elevators[13] into the opulent four-story Victorian Baroque building’s design.[14] Its exterior features ornate ironwork, brick, and stone.[15] Deep red fabrics, heavy drapery, white and green marble, Greek statues,[16] and a 2-ton chandelier comprised of 33,000 hand-strung Austrian crystals[17] made the interior extravagant. Extensive 1928 renovations compromised its original glamour, but a major 1976 restoration project reversed many of these changes. Further renovations in 2000 made the theater more comfortable, modernized its amenities, and made it accessible to visitors with disabilities.[18]

Footnotes [+]

  1. ^ “From the Sentinel Files,” The Milwaukee Sentinel, November 10, 1970, accessed February 26, 2014, http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1368&dat=19701110&id=IZtRAAAAIBAJ&sjid=KhEEAAAAIBAJ&pg=1633,1722089; “Milwaukee’s Old Pabst Theater Regains Its Original Splendor,” Daily News, November 22, 1976, accessed February 26, 2014, http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1696&dat=19761122&id=fK0cAAAAIBAJ&sjid=2kYEAAAAIBAJ&pg=3329,4214752; City of Milwaukee, “Historic Designation Study Report: Pabst Theater” (Milwaukee, WI: Historic Preservation Commission, 1982), 2, accessed January, 27, 2014.
  2. ^ City of Milwaukee, “Historic Designation Study Report,” 1; Whitney Gould, “Hole Represents Progress for Pabst,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 17, 1997, accessed February 26, 2014, http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1683&dat=19970617&id=a3MaAAAAIBAJ&sjid=yy4EAAAAIBAJ&pg=6749,1523637.
  3. ^ “Milwaukee’s Old Pabst Theater Regains Its Original Splendor.”
  4. ^ City of Milwaukee, “Historic Designation Study Report,” 4.
  5. ^ James H. Charleton, “NRHP Registration Form: Pabst Theater,” Washington, DC: Department of Interior, National Park Service, WASO, History Division, August 20, 1991, 14, accessed February 26, 2014.
  6. ^ Joan W. Saltzstein, “When the Pabst Was Young and Gay,” The Milwaukee Journal, May 6, 1967, accessed February 26, 2014, http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1499&dat=19670506&id=glcaAAAAIBAJ&sjid=6ScEAAAAIBAJ&pg=5808,2498498; City of Milwaukee, “Historic Designation Study Report,” 2; “Milwaukee’s Old Pabst Theater Regains its Original Splendor.”
  7. ^ Charleton, “NRHP Registration Form: Pabst Theater,” 14.
  8. ^ Charleton, “NRHP Registration Form: Pabst Theater,” 14; “Milwaukee’s Old Pabst Theater Regains Its Original Splendor.”
  9. ^ Jan Joslyn, “‘New’ Pabst Gets Ovation from First Audience,” The Milwaukee Sentinel, September 24, 1976, accessed February 26, 2014, http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1368&dat=19760924&id=1nhQAAAAIBAJ&sjid=4hEEAAAAIBAJ&pg=3679,4003599
  10. ^ Charleton, “NRHP Registration Form: Pabst Theater,” 14.
  11. ^ “Milwaukee’s Old Pabst Theater Regains Its Original Splendor.”
  12. ^ Saltzstein, “When the Pabst Was Young and Gay.”
  13. ^ Charleton, “NRHP Registration Form: Pabst Theater,” 9; Pabst Theater, “History of the Pabst Theater.”
  14. ^ Charleton, “NRHP Registration Form: Pabst Theater,” 4; City of Milwaukee, “Historic Designation Study Report,” 4.
  15. ^ City of Milwaukee, “Historic Designation Study Report,” 2.
  16. ^ Charleton, “NRHP Registration Form: Pabst Theater,” 7; Pabst Theater, “History of the Pabst Theater,” Pabst Theater Foundation, 2014, accessed January 27, 2014.
  17. ^ Pabst Theater, “History of the Pabst Theater.”
  18. ^ Pabst Theater, “History of the Pabst Theater.”

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