Genoa Theatre

625 Walworth Street,
Genoa City, WI 53128

Unfavorite 2 people favorited this theater

Additional Info

Architects: Derald Milton West

Nearby Theaters

GENOA Theatre, Genoa City, Wisconsin on February 15, 2007.

The Genoa Theatre was opened on November 22, 1949. Closed in the early-1990’s, the Genoa Theatre had a target date of late-November 2003 for a reopening, but this never happened.

Contributed by Pete Christy

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

JimRankin on June 12, 2004 at 5:22 am

Lou Rugani of Kenosha relates the sad news that the refurbishment of the GENOA has stalled due to a failed partnership of the owners.

DBuckley on October 10, 2005 at 12:35 pm

We would spend two weeks every year in a rented cottage in Twin Lakes, WI. The Genoa was the closest theatre. Saw “Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation” with Jimmy Stewart, Fabian, & Maureen O'Hara, & “My Six Loves” with Debbie Reynolds in 1962. Saw the Rat Pack in “Robin & the 7 Hoods” in 1963.

LouisRugani on February 13, 2007 at 6:18 am

The theatre’s actual name is the Genoa Theatre, and it’s located at 625 Walworth Street in downtown Genoa City near US Highway 12.

(Genoa City itself is referenced in the daytime TV drama “The Young and the Restless” as are other nearby communities because screenwriter Tom Racina, a native Kenoshan, is familiar with the area. The village is proud of the resultant publicity and there is a large sign on the edge of town acknowledging the honor.)

The GENOA opened on November 23, 1949 and is of concrete-block construction with a 1950s “jet-age” marquee. Built into the north wall of the structure is a counter-style diner (the “Cinemette”) with its own entrance. There is a full stage, and the GENOA often served as the village’s auditorium, hosting events such as area high school graduations and live theatrical performances.
The roomy auditorium seats 480 plus a few more in a second-floor ‘crying room’. The butterfly roof (not visible from the street) pitches down about four inches in its center with ‘swamp cooling’ – pipes spraying water across the roof in hot weather, an old concept that works rather well with proper roof maintainance in areas where water is cheap.

The original large screen remains, one of four left in the US; it appears to be aluminized in order to view 3D films a la today’s IMAX capabilities.

There are two Brenkert Enarc projectors, and there was a lathe in the basement where copper projection-arc rods were turned from raw stock. The GENOA was a second and third-run theatre throughout its life, finally closing in the early 1990s and darkened since.

The December 19, 2002 Lake Geneva Regional News reported that the GENOA was purchased on November 22, 2002 by a partnership including former village resident Bob Maltz (then living in Wonder Lake, Illinois and a former elder at the Wonder Lake Bible Church) and Rev. Gary Steadman of Monroe, Wisconsin which planned to reopen the GENOA on its anniversary in 2003.

In 2001, a Tim Leonard had successfully petitioned the village board to rezone the GENOA to industrial use for some unspecified purpose, but on December 12, 2002 the village board unanimously voted to rezone the vacant theatre back to commercial use as per the new partnership’s request.

Maltz expressed nostalgia to the reporter over his youthful days at the GENOA, and said he was inspired by the dreams of his late sister Donna Sarna, who had talked about reopening the Genoa over the eight years since it closed. Maltz also stated inspiration from the then-concurrent film “The Majestic” in which a community pulls together to reopen a vacant downtown theatre.

However, Maltz did not indicate a desire for restoration at the GENOA – saying instead that plans included some unspecified change to the 1950s facade, converting the Cinemette to a video arcade (the “No-Tilt Zone”), triplexing the auditorium into three 100-seat screening rooms, creating two upstairs ‘party rooms’ from both the existing crying room and an adjacent storage area, and “maybe” keeping the stage intact for possible live theater performances. Steadman wasn’t quoted in the article but Maltz said he planned to maintain the former revival policy, with a twist: one was to institute ‘theme nights’ by, for example, playing two older car-chase films over a weekend with admission discounts to those who arrive in an older vehicle, and perhaps screening a weekly silent film matinee.

Maltz credited the village for its support and planned a mass-mailing to residents with updates on reopening plans, and a suggestion box outside the theatre.

Genoa City is one of the fastest-growing communities in one of the nation’s busiest and most upscale and attractive residential and tourist areas. Still, the GENOA remains dark in 2007, over four years after the high hopes expressed in that 2002 article. The clerk at one nearby antique-store owner I visited in 2004 said the partners had since gone in different directions.

LouisRugani on February 16, 2007 at 3:27 am

I revisited the GENOA yesterday and there has been progress. I took two exterior photos which are in the Racine Granada photo collection: along with those of other area theatres.

The GENOA now has a roofed superstructure over its original roof, which can be seen in one photo, which seems like massive overkill as the roof problem could have been solved with modern membrane roofing.

The glass doors and box office windows are obscured except for two ‘No Trespassing’ signs visible through the glass. (Which is interesting since actual trespassing is technically impossible as the GENOA touches the public sidewalks, unless you count the tiny threshold into the lobby or a human fly who might attempt to scale the exterior walls.)

The Cinemette is gutted to the wall studs and the wooden marquee (which has a corner chunk missing, probably from a long-ago semi) has been kept painted.

The GENOA is modest but it is attractive with its 1950s-look and Lannon stone trim and it’s my hope that the owner(s) will perpetuate its historical appearance.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 28, 2010 at 1:17 am

A small rendering of the Genoa Theatre accompanied a brief article about the recently-opened house in Boxoffice of December 3, 1949.

This item said that the theater was designed by Gerald M. West of Chicago and Genoa City. But a Boxoffice article of September 3, 1949, had given the architect’s name as Derald West, which is apparently correct. I found a reference to an architect named Derald West practicing in Lake Geneva as early as 1911, and there is a Derald M. West currently listed as practicing architecture in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. Given the unusual first name I can’t imagine them not being related. Given the time span, there could have been another Derald West in between them.

As Louis Rugani noted in the fourth comment on this page, Genoa Theatre is the correct name of this house.

mwest51 on May 22, 2010 at 11:55 am

Derald M. West is my father, and the architect of the Genoa Theatre. He practiced in Chicago until late 40’s when he opened his own firm in Genoa City until the late 50’s when he moved his practice and his family to Lake Geneva. My dad kept his Lake Geneva practice until the early 90’s when my parents semi-retired to Blowing Rock, NC, where, among many other projects he helped expand the Chetola Resort, along with sports facility, hotel, houses and time share units. He is still a licensed architect today and will be 92 in June!

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 22, 2010 at 7:07 pm

Marilee West: Thanks for the information about your father. He has had an impressively long career.

Here’s a corection of my earlier comment: The reference I cited, saying there was an architect named Derald West working at Lake Geneva in 1911, was the result of my misreading of information about an architect named William Woodworth. What the source actually said was that Woodworth, while working in a summer job at Derald West’s office, made drawings of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Geneva Inn— which had been built in 1911. No more speed reading on the Internet for me.

LouisRugani on April 27, 2011 at 4:36 pm

(December 23, 1969)
Witheril Forms Cinema Combine
Theodore F. Witheril, owner of the Capitol and Rialto Theaters in Racine, the Roosevelt Theater in Kenosha and the Genoa Theater in Genoa City, has combined the four into Mid-America Cinema, Inc.
Witheril said the headquarters of the corporation will be at the Capitol Theater, 3017-21 Washington Ave.
He explained the move would substantially decrease paper work and make bookkeeping easier.

LouRugani on June 8, 2016 at 5:33 pm

Derald Milton West – Born June 24, 1918, Died October 18, 2010

Derald Milton West, American Institute of Architects, passed away at 92 in Blowing Rock, NC on October 18, 2010 after living a remarkable life.

He was born June 24, 1918 to the late Frank Milton and Edith Maude Garland West in Chicago, Illinois.

He was a gifted athlete in baseball, football, and hockey in his youth at Lindblom High School in Chicago. From there he was the first member of his family to graduate from college, with honors, from the University of Minnesota in architecture. While a student in 1942, he met and married his wife of 62 years, June Elizabeth Anderson. He was studying for his masters at the Illinois Institute of Technology under Mies van der Rohe when war broke out.

Millions of men were joining the war effort, and Derald was no exception. But his path was quite interesting; he was selected as one of a dozen young scientists and engineers to enter an elite program sponsored by the War Department. He was sent to Wright-Patterson for research and training into the capabilities of munitions, fuses, and other secret technologies. From there, he did further research at Princeton University, during which time he was privileged to meet Albert Einstein on numerous occasions.

Eventually he was sent to England to advise the Ninth Air Force on strategic bombing from a highly technical perspective. He often briefed the Supreme Allied Commanders as the invasion of Fortress Europe approached, and this at the age of 25. He landed on the Normandy beaches days after the invasion to assess the results of aerial bombardment. One of his duties was to advise the Ninth Air Force — after numerous failed missions — to carpet-bomb the runways of a notorious German fighter base in Holland rather than saturate the entire base with smaller munitions. He’d noted earler that the base was ringed with water-pump windmills since it was below sea level and his concept was to destroy the drainage system. The mission was staged and the base was never again operational throughout the war. That success, and his research on how to bomb the Seine bridges prior to D-Day – which precluded Field Marshal Erwin Rommel from reinforcing German resistance to the D-Day landings – earned him a Bronze Star from President Harry S Truman, a rare honor for a civilian.

But his true self-identity was always as an architect. After the war he built a successful practice in Genoa City, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, and Blowing Rock, NC which lasted over sixty years – designing the GENOA Theatre in his new hometown and other buildings, particularly schools, throughout America and into South America. Active in the American Institute of Architects (AIA), he served many roles, including as the National Chairman of the Education Committee and as a judge of the NCAARB. He was a mentor and inspiration to three generations of young architects.

The concept of giving back to his community was important to Derald; he was the co-founder of the Genoa City Improvement Association, a member of the Lake Geneva Planning Commission, the Board of the First United Methodist Church of Lake Geneva, the Walworth County Park and Planning Commission, and the co-founder of the Chapel-on-the-Hill in Williams Bay, Wisconsin. In Blowing Rock he was a member of the Planning Board, a founding member and Chair of the Architectural Review Board, a member of the Historical Society, a vestry member of St. Mary of the Hills Episcopal Church, and a past-President and twice Rotarian of the Year of the Rotary Club of Blowing Rock and a multiple Paul Harris Fellow.

He was survived by his children Deralyn, James, Robert (Sally), and Marilee West, and by six grandchildren.

He was preceeded in death by his wife June, in 2004. A memorial for Mr. Derald M. West was conducted on Friday, November 12, 2010 at 11:00 o'clock at St. Mary of the Hills Episcopal Church in Blowing Rock officiated by Father Rick Lawler. Contributions in Derald’s memory can be given to St. Mary of the Hills Episcopal Church, the Blowing Rock Rotary Foundation or an organization of the donor’s choice.

LouRugani on February 26, 2019 at 6:05 pm

Winners Use Imagination to Capture ‘NIMH’ Cash (BOXOFFICE, January 1983, David Linck) Entries in the recently completed MGM-UA “The Secret of NIMH” Showmanship Contest conducted through BOXOFFICE displayed some of the same originality and imagination found in the animated Aurora Productions film. Judging the many entries from theatres around the country was a difficult task for BOXOFFICE staffers. Each entry sparkled in its own way, with many offering unique methods to promote the adventures of Mrs. Brisby and the rats of NIMH. … Perhaps the best example of linking the film with the book it was based upon, “Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH,” came from another $2,000 winner, the Genoa Theatre in Genoa City, Wisconsin. The theatre’s owners, Mr. and Mrs. John Ingalls, devised a brilliant reading contest that allowed local students to read the book in school and earn free passes to the film’s showing. The Ingalls' also integrated clever merchant tie-ins and hidden “NIMH” stickers on concession items into their overall promotional plan.

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment

Subscribe Want to be emailed when a new comment is posted about this theater?
Just login to your account and subscribe to this theater.