May 11, 2009
Racine's last movie theater to be demolished
Racine's last movie theater will have one final show within the next month.
The Racine Fire Department, pending approval of the City Council, will use the shuttered Regency Theater, 5230 Durand Ave., for practice drills before the building is demolished, according to Chief Steve Hansen. (The Public Safety and Licensing Committee approved the training Monday night.)
Firefighters will use the old theater, which shutdown last month, to practice forcible entry drills, to cut holes in the building's roof and to bust through walls to simulate rescuing a trapped victim, Hansen said.
The theater will not be set on fire during the training, he said.
"It's rare that the (abandoned buildings) come available," Hansen said. "We try to take advantage of them as quickly as possible."
Marcus Theatres closed the Regency theater, which had been serving as a budget theater since 2006, at the end of April. The company had announced plans to close the theater in January.
The move shut the door on movie theaters in Racine. Marcus closed the Westgate movie theater in 2006 after opening the 12-screen Renaissance theater on Washington Avenue in Sturtevant. Racine no longer has a theater that shows movies.
Prior to Regency closing, Racine had an active movie theater until at least 1928, when the Venetian Theatre opened Downtown (I couldn't find the date the Rialto opened).
No date has been set for the Regency theater's demolition, Hansen said.
Hansen will appear before the Common Council's Public Safety and Licensing Committee tonight to gain permission for the training. If all goes as expected, the Common Council will give final approval next week and the training, which will involve every member of the department at different times, will occur within four weeks, Hansen said.
There's no cost for the training, he said.