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Barrymore Theater (Eastwood Theater)

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1929, H. C. Alford; Frederic H. Klein, engineer. 2090 Atwood Ave.
  • (Photograph by Andrew Hope)
  • (Photograph by Andrew Hope)

The East Side Business Men’s Association commissioned the Eastwood Theater in a Spanish-influenced neo-Baroque style. The tan brick building became a neighborhood venue for the latest film innovation: talkies. Lavishly ornamented movie palaces like the Eastwood allowed audiences to escape into an exotic fantasyland, magnified by the films themselves. The Eastwood’s ornate illuminated tower, rising sixty feet from the sidewalk, dominates the street to advertise the theater. Above the marquee, a tall window flanked by twisted columns and crowned by an arch leads the eye up to a large mansard roof. Elaborate details made of cast stone further adorn the tower. A cast-stone balustrade extends from both sides of the tower along the roofline of three shops, which increased the theater’s income. Below the balustrade, the false pent roof clad with clay tiles (orignally red) enhances the building’s Spanish appearance.

Inside, the auditorium continues the Spanish theme, suggesting a patio under a starry Mediterranean sky. An “atmospheric machine” once projected luminous puffs of clouds across the glittery, midnight-blue ceiling, making visitors feel that they were watching movies outdoors. Klein designed the acoustics especially for talkies, using the Vitaphone system, which synchronized sound with film. The theater also accommodated vaudeville acts, as was common in many theaters until the 1950s. Now known as the Barrymore, the old movie palace continues to offer films and musical performances.

Writing Credits

Marsha Weisiger et al.


What's Nearby


Marsha Weisiger et al., "Barrymore Theater (Eastwood Theater)", [Madison, Wisconsin], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Wisconsin

Buildings of Wisconsin, Marsha Weisiger and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2017, 465-466.

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