Al. Ringling Theatre
136 Fourth Avenue,
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Al. Ringling Theatre (Official)
Previously operated by: Delft Theaters Inc.
Firms: Rapp & Rapp
Styles: French Renaissance
The 830-seat Al. Ringling Theatre was the grandest theatre ever built in Baraboo, which had a few smaller theatres up to that point.
It was built by circus showman Al. Ringling (of the Ringling Brothers) as a gift back to the town in which he grew up and loved. He hired Chicago architectural firm Rapp & Rapp, best known for their Chicago Theatre, to design his playhouse.
Built in French Renaissance style, the Al. Ringling Theatre is as ornate as any European opera house, complete with gilded plasterwork, frescoes and mosaics and antique tapestries. The Al. Ringling Theatre opened on November 17, 1915 to operatic performances, but soon became known for vaudeville and later motion pictures. It was equipped with a Barton 3 manual 9 ranks organ, which is still in use today.
Amazingly, the theatre has remained almost completely intact over the years, despite some 1970’s renovations made with the best intentions that were corrected in the 1990’s. The theatre continues to mainly screen movies, but is also used for live shows, concerts and community gatherings.
It was closed June 15, 2015 for restoration, and reopened February 20, 2016.
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