Nowadays few passersby likely give the building on the southwest corner of 27th and Wells a second look. In recent years it was part of a health care facility and it's owned by Milwaukee County.
But that ornate Mediterranean building was erected by the Saxe brothers in 1926 as one of the jewels in their crown of movie palaces that adorned the city. Designed by Dick and Bauer, it was a similar, though less ornate, take on the same style the architects would employ the following year for Saxe's Oriental Theater on the East Side.
The architects also designed, among other theaters, the Garfield, which also still stands, on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, just north of Locust Street.
The Tower Theater stopped showing films in 1975 and currently sits empty. Here are some relatively recent images of the interior, courtesy of Milwaukee County:
While I'm working on getting inside, here's a great video that Keith Stanley produced for the SOHI District, in which the building is located. It's packed with interesting information and old photographs:
CinemaTreasures.org has more detail about The Tower Theater here.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.