Rialto Theatre

1824 Hall Avenue,
Marinette, WI 54143

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Fox Circuit, Fox Wisconsin Circuit

Functions: Bank

Previous Names: Stephenson Opera House, Cozy Thetare

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The Stephenson Opera House was opened in fall of 1879. It bacame the Cozy Theatre which was opened by 1912. In September 1923 it was renamed Rialto Theatre with seating listed at 800. This was one of three theatres in downtown Marinette operated by Fox Wisconsin Theatres.

The Rialto Theatre closed in the late-1950’s and the building was incorporated into the Stephenson Bank & Trust building.

Contributed by Chuck

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 23, 2010 at 1:38 pm

The Rialto is mentioned in an article in a 1931 issue of a journal called American Artisan. Local sheet metal worker George Bishoff had built a marquee for the house.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 8, 2021 at 8:03 pm

1826 Hall Street is the address listed for a Marinette movie house called the Cozy Theatre in the 1914-1915 American Motion Picture Directory. Here is an item about the Cozy from the September 8, 1923 issue of Moving Picture World:

“The Cozy Theatre at Marinette, Wisc, will be reopened early in September and may be renamed. During the summer a new canopy has been erected, the interior redecorated, new seats installed, an addition in the rear erected, adding to the capacity of the house, and new pipe organ installed that cost $10,000. The house will be one of the niftiest in the State when all the improvements are completed.”
The Directory lists seven movie theaters at Marinette, but the Cozy is the only one for which the address is given. It looks like they did rename it, and the Cozy became the Rialto in 1923.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 9, 2021 at 4:48 pm

Headlines in the Marinette Eagle-Star reveal two openings of the Rialto Theatre. The first published Friday, September 21, 1923 said “New Rialto Theater, Hall Ave., Will Open On Sunday-Improved & Beautified At Cost Of $25,000.”

Another headline from November 5, 1927 simply says “Grand Opening Of The Rialto Theater.” Possibly the house had been closed for a while, or maybe there was a new owner. The article itself is not available, so the exact date of this 1927 opening is as yet unrevealed.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 10, 2021 at 3:58 pm

The Rialto was older than we thought. A directory from 1891 lists 1826 Hall Avenue as the location of the Stephenson Opera House. An item in the August 30, 1879 issue of the Marinette & Peshtigo Eagle said that the new opera house would be completed by October 1. It was certainly in operation by December 6, when the paper noted a packed house for an appearance by the popular vaudeville act the Clement Brothers. The same edition said that Susan B. Anthony was scheduled to give a lecture at the Stephenson Opera House.

The Opera House was built by Isaac Stephenson, a local lumber baron who was reportedly the richest man in Wisconsin, In the early 20th century served two terms in the U.S. Senate. In 1882 he built a second opera house in the neighboring town of Menominee, Michigan. Although enlarged in 1890, the Stephenson Opera House was unable to compete with Marinette’s new Turner Opera House opened in 1891, and in 1898 it was leased to the Marinette Elks Lodge for use as club rooms. Various events continued to be held there, but they were mostly of a local nature.

The next few years remain a blank for now, but the Cozy Theatre had been opened by 1912, when the April 4 issue of the Escanaba Daily Press reported that the Cozy Theatre on Hall Avenue in Marinette had been bought by a Mr. Sullivan, owner of the Royal Theatre at Escanaba.

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