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New life for Green Bay's Historic West Theatre

Interior of The Tartlton Theatre during renovations in October, 2018 (WBAY photo)
Interior of The Tartlton Theatre during renovations in October, 2018 (WBAY photo)(WBAY)
Published: Oct. 19, 2018 at 6:10 PM CDT
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After being vacant for more than two years, Green Bay's Historic West Theatre is getting a facelift and a name change. Soon it will be known as The Tartlton Theatre.

It will function as an entertainment, restaurant and bar after renovations are done.

The theater was built in 1924 on West Walnut St. just off Broadway on the near-west side. Over the years it's housed a car dealership, a movie theater and at least two nightclubs.

It's been under repair for six months.

"Preservation of a historic property -- these are buildings that you know-- once they're gone, you don't get them back, and so it's exciting for us to find somebody who's willing to come in and kind of re-engage that space in a way that's historically appropriate, a way that it's been used in the past," Brian Johnson, executive director of On Broadway Inc., said.

Even with the space under constant turnover, new owners Tarl Knight and Mark Mariucci are determined to revive and keep the theater running.

Knight, a local singer and songwriter, sees it as the perfect opportunity to advance the arts in Green Bay.

"I've always been looking for a place to perform, and there are people looking for this type of venue and especially an accessible one where people of low, high, medium income can come together, and this place opened up and we knew we had to get it right away," Knight said.

"Every business, you know, has a certain amount of risk that comes with it, and so I think here you've got two individuals who are very passionate and motivated, and more often than not that'll dictate success," Johnson said.

The Tarlton Theatre will be open to performers and audiences of all ages, with the hope of making it a community staple.

"We want to be a fixture and a cornerstone of this community. Downtown deserves a place where they can go and be comfortable, where they can get something to eat, get something to drink, and we need a community center to really bring people together over culture and diversity," Knight said.

The theater will open its doors to the public next month.

Knight told us the finished theater will have an art deco look with a modern twist. He plans on keeping its historical elements.