The Warner Grand Theatre on Milwaukee's Wisconsin Avenue was built in 1930 as the grandest of movie palaces and Vaudville venues in the state. Cinema Treasures described it as, "the fanciest theatre in Milwaukee and one of the most beautiful in the nation." It closed in 1995, remaining unused and deteriorating since then. Now the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra is converting the long vacant acoustic marvel into their new home and performance space.
The MSO wanted to make the theater their home since at least 2000. 9-11 and the crash of 2008 prevented them from moving forward until recently. The MSO has raised over $128 million and is in the community phase of its capital campaign to raise $139 million for the restoration and construction, as well as endowment funds. Restoration is in progress and scheduled for completion prior to the 2020 symphony season. Milwaukee architectural firm Kahler Slater is leading the project to transform the building.
After more than 20 year of disuse the building had deteriorated. Falling plaster, hasardous materials, non-working lighting and other hazards meant it couldn't be open to the public. But thanks to this tour anyone can visit -- virtually. In some ways you may even see more than in person, thanks to our suplimental lighting and HDR image processing. The virtual visit is proving a great way to build awareness buzz and as a fund raising tool.
Rendering of the Grand Theatre after restoration. For more visit Kahler Slater's post.
As remarkable a building as the theater is, it was never placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The MSO is working with the National Park Service to make that happen once the restoration is complete.
For more 360 interactive images and virtual tours visit the main Tour de Force 360 website.