211 S. Main Street,
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Previous Names: New Belle Opera House, Racine Theatre
The sizeable but little-remembered New Belle Opera House opened on February 11, 1890 with “The Pirates of Penzance”. It was on the east side of Main Street at the intersection of State Street in downtown Racine, Wisconsin, across from the more prominent Bate/Orpheum/RKO Main Street Theatre. On August 16, 1906 it became a playhouse named the Racine Theatre. On May 14, 1914 it became a vaudeville theatre named Rex Theatre and soon went over to being a full time photoplay house with a 5-cent ticket admission price, and faded early on from the roster of Racine’s theatres in 1930 only to reopen in the late-1930’s and closing for good in 1939, leaving the Main Street Theatre to anchor that corner into 1954.
However, the Rex Theatre outlasted the Main Street Theatre (which was demolished in 1959) by becoming a bowling parlor lasting into into the 1970’s, but with very little of the original interior remaining to remind patrons of its original history and purpose.
The Rex Theatre and adjoining buildings were cleared after 1973 to create open green space and parkland. However, there are two very rare photographs of the Rex at the Racine Granada website (see link) which is also archiving photos and other material on other Racine and Racine-area theatres.
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