Withstanding the Test of Time
Category : History
The Modjeska Theater (1134 W. Mitchell Street) officially opened its doors to patrons in 1910, serving as one of Milwaukee’s premier vaudeville outlets. Named after the Polish actress Helena Modjeska (1840-1909) who specialized in Shakespearean roles, the theater catered to the Polish-American community in the city. First built with 840 seats, the theater was replaced in 1924 on the grounds of the same address with a much larger structure full of grandeur – holding 2,000 seats, a full orchestra pit, trap doors abetting the most famous of vaudeville acts, and a Barton pipe organ. For decades, the theater operated prosperously. However, after enduring several changes in ownership, the success of the theater palace remained limited, and the venue eventually closed in 2010.
The Modjeska Theatre Project LLC is now operated by the not-for-profit group Mitchell Street Development Opportunities Corporation (MSDOC). A combined effort between the group and a number of committee members seek to breathe life back into the Modjeska Theater and again see it prosper and be available for the Milwaukee community. The end goal amongst these efforts is to showcase a theater district with a thriving arts and entertainment scene, as well as cultivate the development of local business.
Come early spring 2016, the theater will again host entertainment of all kinds – comedy shows, theater acts, graduations and community forums, weddings, art gallery nights and more. The sidewalks will again hear the sound of laughter and joy in the spirit of entertainment, and the lights of the Modjeska Theater marquee will again shine on Mitchell Street.