Rivoli Theater

117 4th St N | Locally Designated 12/21/1995  

Summary Material:

The Rivoli opened its doors Sunday, September 19, 1920. Matinee prices were 11 cents for children, 28 cents for adults. Evening prices were 11 cents and 33 cents (prices included a tax). The theater had a $20,000.00 organ built by Wangerin & Weiskardt in Milwaukee. They originally ran silent movies. The Rivoli's auditorium was 80-feet wide and 120 feet long. Its original seating capacity was advertised as 1,400, however, 1,025 seats was the capacity after the 1929-1930 renovation. From the thirties on, the Rivoli ran all the "big" pictures. The theater has played a very important part of both children and adults lives. Joan Rausch included this building in the 1983-1984 survey. 

Notice of Designation of Historic Structure

Creme brick facade divided into eleven bays by full length pilasters that terminate in the medallion and pediment ornamented parapet above the projecting cornice; interior of theatre retains Spanish Courtyard motif; store fronts have been somewhat altered. Builder was Joseph and Frank Schwalbe. An example of 1920s architectural design by Parkinson and Dockendorff combined with an interior theatre design by the O.J. Oyen firm, the Rivoli Theatre, originally featuring an orchestra pit for silent films and vaudeville acts before it was remodeled c. 1930 for talking films is the oldest moving theatre remaining in La Crosse. Architecturally significant as the best representative of late neo-classicism in the commercial district. The interior has retained elements of the Spanish courtyard motif, the store fronts have been altered over the years. This is a concrete building with brick curtain walls and a false wood roof. The theatre section has a tile roof on exposed steel joists and trusses with suspended metal lath and plaster. The original entrance was at 119 N. 4th Street with a metal structure 1 story high above the sidewalk.
- (Historical notes from the Wisconsin Historical Society’s Architecture and History Inventory)

This site is located within the Downtown Commercial Historic District.