No plans in works for theater
Owner has only intended to restore property


Feb. 20, 2015

The lights from the former downtown theater shine Thursday in West Bend.   
John Ehlke/Daily News   

WEST BEND - If you drive through the heart of the city right after the sun has set, you can’t help but notice the marquee of the West Bend Theatre lighting up the night.

Its movie patrons, however, are long gone, along with the films that attracted folks to Main Street during the theater’s heyday. It sits essentially empty, awaiting the next stage of its life, according to Matt Prescott, a partner in Ascendant Holdings, a Madison-based company that has owned the building at 125 N. Main St. since May 2012.

“When we bought it, we never intended to do anything with it other than make sure it was structurally sound and to take it back to its vaudeville theater configuration,” Prescott said in a phone interview Thursday. “The building had been vacant for a long time before we bought it. Over the years, it had been divided into three theaters, two on the first floor and one on the second. We did take down the partition between the two on the first floor to reopen that space.”

In January 2013, some unexpected work needed to be done when some pipes froze, Prescott said.

The West Bend Theatre opened on Nov. 26, 1929, to great fanfare, according to an article in the West Bend Pilot on Nov. 28, 1929.

“Beautiful show house opened its doors to the public Tuesday evening, attendance 1,200,” the story’s headline states. “The motion picture, ‘A Perfect Day — an all talking comedy,’ concluded the theatre’s program on its opening night.”

This undated photo of the interior of the West Bend Theatre was submitted by
Matt Prescott, owner of the building. 

Photo submitted  

The West Bend Theatre was one of four movie houses in West Bend.

Prescott, who grew up in West Bend, said by the time he was old enough to attend movies, the West Bend Theatre had been divided in two, featuring two screens. Sometime in the 1990s, its balcony area was redesigned to hold another movie screen.

“I do have some good memories there,” Prescott said of the theater.

For now, the building is minimally heated and its attention-getting marquee is on an automatic timer.

“We haven’t had any contact with Matt about the building since the pipes froze,” West Bend City Administrator T.J. Justice said Wednesday afternoon. “Nothing in the way of plans for the theater have been submitted and there are no recent permits for work.”

Prescott said the building is for sale, although it has not been listed with any realty.

“I’ve been talking to people about selling it. We want to make sure that whoever buys it will be the right stewards for it and will set it up for whatever the next cycle of its life will be,” Prescott said.