The highs and lows of this storied theater.
1927: The Empire Building (710 N. Plankinton Ave.), which will house the Riverside Theater, is built for $2.5 million.
April 29, 1928: The Riverside Theater opens with musical act Ezra Buzzington’s Rustic Revelers and a feature film, The Big Noise.
1933-1945: Theater manager Ed Weisfeldt offers advice to then-new acts. This includes Lawrence Welk, whom he convinces to engage the crowd for the first time ever.
April 1935: A small electrical fire breaks out during a rehearsal, causing $3,800 in damage.
Jan. 29, 1938: Nyuk Nyuk Nyuk! The Three Stooges perform their famous slapstick comedy routine.
Jan. 25, 1940: If you believe a highly contested anecdote, a then-unknown Frank Sinatra makes his first singing appearance as a member of Tommy Dorsey’s band.
March 30, 1941: Burglars rob employees and drive away with $7,645, only to be foiled by the cops. Gunfire ensues and the men flee, leaving $7,121 behind.
1957: A Chicago real estate mogul buys the Empire Building for a reported $1.75 million.
November 1961: Joseph Zilber’s real estate company, Towne Realty, purchases the Empire Building.
Sept. 12, 1965: A “Mr. Milwaukee” breaks out (code name for fire) during a film screening. Theater manager John McKay blocks the flames by dropping an asbestos screen.
Nov. 29, 1968: Johnny Cash headlines two shows in one night with the help of wife June, Maybelle Carter and Carl Perkins.
1982: United Artists neglects to renew lease. Towne Realty considers other options for the Riverside, like office space or a beer garden. A campaign to “Save the Riverside” begins.
June 14, 1984: Zilber saves the Riverside, and the space transitions from movie palace to live music venue. Riverside Theaters Inc. signs a lease.
1991, 1995: Towne Realty cuts Riverside Theaters Inc. loose due to financial woes, and New Riverside Corp. signs a lease.
June 2005: New Riverside Corp. ceases operations, citing tough competition from the recently opened and publicly funded Milwaukee Theatre.
October 2005: The Pabst Theater Group takes over the lease and updates the interior and exterior. The Moody Blues kick off the new era.
July 2011: Bon Iver plays two sold-out shows, before launching a worldwide tour for the band’s sophomore album.
December 2015: The marquee is renovated to bring back the theater’s old-world charm. The vertical sign returns.
Historical information compiled from Milwaukee Journal and Milwaukee Sentinel archives.