401 N. 4th Street,
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Artsblock Peforming Arts Foundation -- Grand Theater (Official)
Previously operated by: Fox Circuit
Architects: Irving A. Obel, William Oppenhamer
Firms: Oppenhamer & Obel
Functions: Performing Arts
Previous Names: Grand Opera House
Originally the Grand Opera House which opened January 8, 1900 with the play “Frederick the Great”. It was showing movies by 1914. It was renovated and reopened November 24, 1927 with William Boyd in “Dress Parade”. The 1,200-plus seat Grand Theatre was designed by architectural firm Oppenhamer & Obel in stately Neo-Classical style. It was equipped with a 3 manual, 10 ranks Kilgen organ which was opened by organist Lawrence Bernhhardt. By 1941 it was operated by the Fox Wisconsin Circuit.
Though recently restored to its former elegance, including gilded columns and beautiful plasterwork, the Grand Theatre, as part of the Artsblock Performing Arts Foundation, which also operates the adjoining Great Hall, the Loft, Greenheck Lounge and Caroline Mark Gallery, is a modern live performance venue.
It now has state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems, and not only hosts Broadway shows, dance, and concerts, but also films, community events, and is available for rental.
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Recent comments (view all 7 comments)
The source for the name of the architect currently listed for this theater, Wayne Schoupke, is apparently David Naylor’s 1987 book “Great American Movie Theaters” (at least I’ve been unable to find any other print sources using that name that are cited on the Internet.)
However, a web page from the Marathon County Historical Society about Wausua architect William Oppenhamer attributes the design of the Grand to his firm of Oppenhamer & Obel (Irving Obel.) Historical societies can be wrong, of course, but so can authors of books. (The historical society web site is weird, so I can’t link the page directly. Search Google with these three words, including the quote marks: “Oppenhamer, William” Marathon …his page should be the first result.)
There is an architect named Wayne Schoepke (note different spelling of the surname) currently practicing in Wausau. Perhaps Schoepke was the architect for a renovation of the Grand, and Naylor just got his notes garbled? I’ve been unable to find any period references to an architect named either Schoupke or Schoepke, but there are many old references to the firm of Oppenhamer & Obel (including one, from 1921, about a theater they were designing, to be located in Rhinelander, Wisconsin,) so I’m inclined to think the historical society got this one right, and Naylor got it wrong.
A list of theater architects in the April 28, 1928, issue of Exhibitors Herald and Moving Picture World has an entry for Oppenhamer & Obel, and the Grand and Wausau Theatres at Wausau are listed as that firm’s designs, confirming the claim of the Marathon County Historical Society.
Updated website link: http://www.grandtheater.org/support/?gclid=Cj0KEQjwrZ24BRC098fr-OqnuMkBEiQAKQ9lgHN3H7p5nDXa8wWX-yxWBgEc2xBcDaI7kYNh2pocgx8aAv7L8P8HAQ
This opened on November 24th, 1927, Grand opening ad in the photo section.
Found on Newspapers.com
January 2018 article ranking Grand Theatre as #5 venue worldwide. Via the Grand Theatre Wausau Facebook page. 1928 photo also added to Photos Section.
Multiple photos added, credited individually.