Historic photo (Sheboygan Co. Hist. Res. Center)
Restored theater (Ron Klunk photo)
Main lobby (T. Heggland photo)
826 North Eighth Street, Sheboygan, Sheboygan County
Architect: United Studios, Inc.
Date of Construction: 1928
In the 1920s, the motion picture industry was a monopoly. Movie studios produced and distributed films to the theaters that they owned and operated. Their great wealth allowed them to build extravagant movie palaces in cities all across the nation. The Sheboygan Theater is a 1550-seat, combination motion picture and live theater building. Universal Pictures Corporation constructed the theater in the heart of Sheboygan's downtown in 1928 at a cost of $600,000. The building's Spanish Colonial Revival style design was created by architects employed by United Studios, Inc. of Chicago, a firm that specialized in designing and building movie theaters.
The modest, two-story tall, terra cotta clad entrance fašade of this large, T-shaped building faces North Eighth Street and stands in stark contrast to the extravagant, highly ornamental interior. Its elaborate and exotic "atmospheric" design came into vogue in the larger studio-built movie theaters of the 1920s. The interior at the Sheboygan in designed to resemble a summer evening in a romantic Spanish garden, allowing the movie patrons a fanciful escape to a world of riches and adventure.
The Sheboygan Theater was the largest and most important movie theater built in the city during the twentieth century. It remained preeminent until the growth of Sheboygan's suburbs and the advent of television made it obsolete as a movie theater. By the mid-1990s the building was sitting empty. In 1997 the building was purchased by the Sheboygan Community Theater Foundation, which began an outstanding restoration project, returning the theater to its former glory. To learn more about the history of the building, visit the theater website.
The Sheboygan Theater is open to the public for performances and special events.