A historic building will soon be gone as the City of Racine Building Department has called for the Park Theater, 3015 Washington Ave., to be razed. Owner John H. Apple was delivered an order to raze on June 28 and given 30 days to bring down the 90-year-old Mediterranean Revival style structure.

If he fails to tear it down, the city will, sending Apple a bill for the work.

The theater might have been saved had it been added to the National Register of Historic Places. According to a memo from Racine’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LRC) the building may have been eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, but neither the owner nor the Landmarks Preservation Commission “took action to provide the property with a level of review and protection through a … nomination or local designation.”

The City’s chief building inspector determined that, due to neglect and damage, the building is in a state of extreme disrepair. According to the LRC, “The building has multiple issues relating to building, electrical, and plumbing violations that render it (un-occupiable). Efforts by the (city’s) Building Inspection Division to compel the owner to make the necessary repairs have been met with inaction, thus (calling it) unfit for human habitation and the … raze or remove order was issued.”

In addition, property taxes for the years 2008, and 2010-2017 remain unpaid. The taxes, special assessments, and penalties add up to more than $123,000. The building and land are currently assessed at $150,000.

On Aug. 28, 2017, the Building Department sent the building owner a list of 12 violations that needed to be addressed, including inspection by a structural engineer. In addition to the theater, the building features storefront retail space and three apartments on the second floor.

The Marcus Corporation purchased the theater from Carmichael & Associates in 1981 for $50,000. It was renovated and split the inside into two theater spaces. It renamed the theater the Park Cinemas 1 & 2. It mostly showed second-run films. Marcus closed the theater in September 1987. The building has been bought and sold repeatedly since then, changing hands in 1995, 2002 and 2006.


The area will see 22,000 jobs created over the next few years. So how will Racine County re-tool its skills?

Racine County Eye just received an investigative journalism grant and we’re focusing on barriers to employment for our Eye on Employment page. So we’re looking for people and business owners to tell us what they see are the biggest barriers to employment are in Racine County. Send yours to denise@racinecountyeye.com and put JOBS in the subject line.

Here’s more about the project:

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Rex Davenport

Rex Davenport is a reporter, editor and editorial project manager with more than 40 years of experience in newspaper, business magazines and other content channels.