By Collin Perez
GREEN BAY – The Tarlton Theatre has been through a lot of hands through its near century-long history.
“This next year, we’re celebrating the 100th year, so we’re celebrating that on Dec. 9 and our Tarlton Theatre is to request benefactors. It’s a free event, people are welcome to come out to that,” said Tarlton Knight, co-owner of the Tarlton Theatre.
The original building was constructed as an automobile dealership, used 1924-25, before the Standard Theatres Management Corporation bought the building in 1941.
Midwest architect Perry Crosier helped remodel the theatre into a Streamline Moderne style — a type of Art Deco he was noted for.
It then opened as the West Theatre on Nov. 14, 1941.
It operated as the West Pitcher Show from June 12, 1987, until November 25, 2000, a second-run movie theatre which also served beer and pizza.
The United States Department of the Interior placed the theatre on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Broadway-Walnut Historic District.
The same year the theatre closed, it was bought by Mark Mariucci, who renovated the place, opening on Feb. 9, 2001, as the Historic West Theatre.
The renovations included a large stage and a dance floor for the performing arts.
The theatre showed independent and arthouse films, operating as a dance club on weekends.
Former Green Bay Packer Player Nick Barnett bought the theatre in 2005, converting it into a nightclub called FiveSix Ultra Lounge.
Barnett sold the theatre in 2007.
Mary Clare Vanden Boom and Joey Hawthorne bought the theatre and reopened it as a computer repair and retail business.
In November 2013, they changed the name to the “Funky Monkey.”
Vanden Boom and Hawthorne decided to renovate it in an attempt to create a restaurant and performance venue.
Due to a lack of funding, they later closed.
In 2018, Tarlton Knight and one of the theatre’s previous owners, Mark Mariucci, reopened the facility as Tarlton Theatre.
The theatre was restored as an Art Deco cinema, which also included a performing arts venue with a bar and a restaurant.
In 2022, The Tarlton Theatre announced its collaboration with the Weidner Center and UW-Green Bay called The Weidner Downtown Series at The Tarlton.
“The non-profit is the Historic West Fund and the purpose of the nonprofit is shifted toward preserving and restoring the West (Theatre) and the history of it,” Knight said. “I think a really important goal here in order to restore preservation in the downtown. Our goal is to be keepers of this truly wonderful monument in our city to the history of arts and culture and cinema. In the Green Bay area and northeastern Wisconsin, it’s one of the only original Art Deco movie theatres I think that’s still standing in the Brown County.”
A new plaque was unveiled March 29 at the Tarlton in honor of the building’s inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.