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Historic West Bend Theatre features Period-Accurate Brass Light Gallery Fixtures.

West Bend Theatre Restoration
Tags: Interior Lighting

By the turn of the 20th century in America, many people were looking for new ways to escape and be entertained. Vaudeville was a popular form of entertainment during the early 1900s. The development of this new genre marked an important turning point for America's entertainment industry. With many having greater leisure time and spending power due to urbanization trends, audiences were more open-minded than ever before.

The Bend, built in 1929, originally operated as a Vaudeville theatre in West Bend, Wisconsin. Since then, the theatre has seen its share of changes but has always retained its rich history and iconic "West Bend" blade sign.

In 2020, the theatre was restored to its original beauty by a nonprofit group called Historic West Bend Theatre, Inc. These efforts landed The Bend a designation on the State and National Registers of Historic Places.

The Bend now serves West Bend and the greater Milwaukee region with arts opportunities, music, theatre, comedy, movies and an experience unlike any other.

Brief History of West Bend Theatre

The Historic West Bend Theatre opened to audiences during the era of "movie palaces" when going to the movies was part of a cultural and artistic boom.

August Berkholtz and Louis Kuehlthau founded the West Bend Theatre Company to build The West Bend, which was owned by W.W. Oeflein from 1929 to '32 and leased to the Community Theatres group, funded and run by the likes of the Pabst family, which ran theatres across Wisconsin, including the Geneva in Lake Geneva and the Plaza in Burlington.

Did you know?
Presidential hopeful John F. Kennedy, in 1960, campaigned in West Bend and the theatre's blade sign pops in the background in photos of that visit.

Restoring a Local Theatre to Its Former Glory

In 2012, Matt Prescott bought the theatre and fixed the roof and made other repairs. Five years later – after some recommended tearing it down and leaving only the facade standing – Prescott sold it to Historic West Bend Theatres, who undertook the recent renovation.

When workers uncovered original painted details, they restored what remained and recreated what didn't. During this time, Brass Light Gallery was brought in to consult on crafting era-accurate lighting fixtures for the theatre.

From the beginning, we wanted to stay true to authenticity and the history of the theatre. It was the architectural springboard that led to the styles of lighting fixtures handcrafted for the entire project.

Shown is the original lobby lighting in the theatre. Notice the Art Deco waves. We incorporated that detail into the auditorium sconces.

We pride ourselves on meticulous attention to detail in handcrafting our light fixtures. While many aspects of a fixture go unnoticed by many, our passion for creating premium quality lighting lives in every one of those details.

Scale plays an important role
After getting a sense of space and the purpose of the lighting, our team created physical mockups of the showcase fixtures and placed them all around. This step helped us determine the correct number of fixtures to illuminate each area appropriately.

Lighting as a supporting role
Lighting style, placement, and design are essential to the mood of a room, or in this case, a theatre. Each fixture is beautiful in itself and is able to fulfill a greater sense of purpose when fixtures are considered and incorporated into the look and feel from the beginning of a restoration project such as this.

While the initial goal was to reproduce the original lighting fixture, we decided to compliment (not match) the architectural elements throughout the theatre. It was the correct creative decision because the whole place feels appropriately intimate now.

We invite you to visit The Bend when you get a chance and let us know what you think of their renovations and your experience. We'd love to hear from you.


Established in 1974, Brass Light Gallery is America's favorite made in USA source for premium handcrafted decorative interior and exterior lighting.

By ordering directly from us, the designer and manufacturer, you receive outstanding personalized service and made-to-order style with your high quality, made in the U.S.A. light fixtures.

 

Jun 30, 2021

Amy Joslin

Top rated Jeweler in Milwaukee 5 stars on Google
I have an older fixture no longer produced by Brass Light Gallery. Angie and the team were extremely helpful in identifying and producing the replacement (lost) parts to get my fixture up and functioning again. They did this all remotely and shipped the parts promptly. Highly recommend!
May 14, 2021

Will Heelan

Top rated Jeweler in Milwaukee 5 stars on Google
Brass Light Gallery is such an amazing resource: they can build your lighting dream. Angela in the sales room was just the best: listened carefully to what we were trying to accomplish and guided us through the process. She was a delight to work with and she persisted until she found EXACTLY what we were looking for: three sconces to match my Brass Light Gallery pendants from 20 years ago! We are so pleased!
Mar 17, 2021

Cathy Lindberg

Top rated Jeweler in Milwaukee 5 stars on Google
I loved Janel who assisted me. She was professional and friendly and super competent. Love my fixture! Perfect....and Made in the USA!
Feb 22, 2021

Trevor Santarius

Top rated Jeweler in Milwaukee 5 stars on Google
Always a fantastic experience with Brass Light Gallery. Their customer service goes above and beyond and their products are of the highest quality. It is great to support true artisans that create timeless and beautiful light fixtures that are made to last multiple generations. While certainly on the high end price-wise, their fixtures are well worth the investment.
Jan 22, 2021

JR R

Top rated Jeweler in Milwaukee 5 stars on Google
AMAZING!!! Breathtaking! Simply beautiful!! We are beyond impressed with the quality of these lovely fixtures and beyond impressed with the sales help from Janel. Janel was outstanding to work with! She took the time to understand that we wanted to modernize our 25 year old home with updated lighting. She asked about style, dimensions, pictures and layout information and helped us pick out coordinated fixtures for all rooms. Honest, very helpful but no pressure felt. We ordered 14 beautifully modern fixtures for the main level of our home. We live in MN and the lights came very well packaged and cared for. Our local electrician found installation easy and intuitive and commented many times on how high quality these fixtures were. "very well made, very very nice"!!! Am already planning the next lights we would like to update. We will definitely be ordering from brass light gallery again. HIGHLY recommend using this amazing company! Thank you Janel!!
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