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RACINE – A Racine property owner is seeking Racine Local Landmark status for the long-quiet former Park I and II Theater, 3015-3021 Washington Ave.

The City of Racine Building Department sent the building owner a list of 12 violations on Aug. 28, 2017, that needed to be addressed, including inspection by a structural engineer. In addition to the theater, the building features a storefront retail space and three apartments on the second floor. In 2018, the city issued an order to raze the building due to code violations.

But the City plans to consider the request.

According to Apple’s recent application, the nomination to designate the theater as a landmark would make it possible to rezone the property from Community Shopping District to Historic District. The building’s present use is residential, and Apple proposes returning it to a theater.

The building opened in May 1928 as the Capitol Theater. It was designed by Milwaukee architectural firm Dick & Bauer, which also created the Oriental Theater on Milwaukee’s east side. The original Capital had 1,000 seats for silent films with music provided by a pipe organ. A sound system was added a year later.

The Capital was split into two auditoriums in 1975. It was purchased by Marcus Corp. in 1982 and renamed the Park I and II. The theater closed in 1987.

The theater building’s potential historical was reviewed in 2016 by the Wisconsin Historical Society. The WHS cited its Mediterranean Revival architecture style and found it met the National Register of Historic Places eligibility criteria.

The City Planning and Heritage Commission will hold a public hearing next Wednesday, Oct. 28 to consider the request by property owner John Apple. The hearing starts at 4:30 p.m. and will be held virtually. 

Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.