A Brief History
The Nagle Building
220 S. Main Street
George and Anna Nagle came from Rhinelander and bought the 220 S Main Street property from F. D. Naber. The Nagles planned the Crescent Theater in 1914 and built and opened the theater starting with the grand opening on March 1, 1915. This was a “state of the art” theater with all the latest technology and comforts. Live Vaudeville and other entertainers were the primary attraction with silent movies shown only on “special occasions.”
When built, Anna and George Nagle bought the 511 seats from the Wisconsin Seating Company in New London, WI. The grand opening was March 1, 1915. The Nagles received an invoice on March 2, 1915 and paid the company the total of $655.22 for the 511 seats, freight, and installation on March 15. How does the Shawano County Historical Society know this? We have Anna Nagles records from the building and operation of the theater.
Anna Nagle was always interested in comfort for her customers so wider seats were later added, reducing the capacity to 463. Anna Nagle, a prominent business woman in the community, had a policy of keeping pace with changing times. She was always upgrading the technology and the appearance of the theater. Over the almost 40-year Nagle tenure, some improvements included; a new marquee, candy shop with a state of the art popcorn machine, air conditioning, and equipment for “talkies.” The impressive marquee was installed by Ben Poblocki and Sons of Milwaukee.
Independent Theaters Company bought the Crescent from Anna Nagle in the early 1950’s after 26 years of operation. William L. Ainsworth, president of Independent Theaters also added the Shawano Drive-In at the corner of Highways 22 and 187. Russel Robbins operated both until they were sold to John and Elenor Reilly in the late 1950’s.
The Reillys owned the theater until Paul Routhieaux bought the property in the 1996 and changed the approach by offering more food choices, beer, and a 2nd run movies. After 17 years, Routhieaux closed the Crescent Pitcher Show in early December 2013 because movies were moving from film to digital distribution technology. Upgrading the theater technology was estimated at $50k at the time which was simply too costly.
220 S Main Street sat vacant until the “Stubborn Brothers,” Aaron and Erik Gilling, took over the property in 2016. After extensively reworking the entire building but staying true to the original architectural design and period, the Nagle Building is now transformed and reinvented. Thank you to the Stubborn Brothers for respecting the history of the property.
Take a look at the photo gallery showing the Nagle Building and Crescent Theater through the years.