Milwaukeeans know the building as the home of its recently shuttered tenant, the Alchemist Theatre. Founded by Erica Case and Aaron Kopec, Alchemist served as a venue for live theater and other forms of entertainment for more than a decade. The theater was a tenant in the building for 12 years before closing in late 2018.
The building, which proudly sports the name “Bay View” above its front door, was built in 1927 according to city records. In 2018 the 7,683-square-foot building was assessed for $437,600. No purchase price was immediately available. City assessment records indicate the property was owned by a trust connected to Tove Case, the mother of Alchemist co-founder Erica Case.
Genke has a number of projects underway on S. Kinnickinnic Ave., including the adjacent vacant lot at 2563 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. The developer told Urban Milwaukee in October he hopes to break ground on an 18-unit apartment building on the 15,000-square-foot site in 2019. Genke has hired Joel Agacki of Striegel-Agacki Studio to serve as architect of record.
Don’t expect the Alchemist building to meet the same fate as the American Legion building. “The ‘Bay View’ is a beautiful example of a Mediterranean styled mixed-use building,” said Genke via email. The building is a much better fit for the urban context of the area. In addition to the theater space, city records indicate three apartments are included in the two-story building.
An architectural drawing sent to Urban Milwaukee by Genke shows the building with two first-floor commercial spaces and large windows, likely as it was when it was first built.
SG Property Development + Management owns and operates a number of properties in the area, including the redeveloped King Building, which includes 14 apartments, including live-work units, and two street-facing commercial spaces.
Photos and Drawings
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More than 300 people cheered the groundbreaking Tuesday for the Holly Theatre in downtown Medford, but what really got Michelle Ellis and many others pumped was standing next to one of their favorite movie stars, Jim Belushi.
“I’m good now — I got to touch him,” Ellis said after her dizzying moment rubbing shoulders with Belushi, though the 41-year-old Medford resident who lives on Holly Street said she didn’t want to bother him for an autograph.
Belushi, honorary chair of the Holly Restoration Committee, helped smash a ceremonial hole in the wall of the theater to create a new side entrance, announcing that the final push is underway to restore the theater — with a grand reopening set for the middle of 2020.
Belushi said that from the moment he saw the building he was impressed with its energy and the history that emanated from the 1930s-era theater, designed by renowned local architect Frank Clark.
“This has been a joyful, spiritual place that has been let go,” said Belushi.
He said the theater will create a lot of energy in an area of downtown that is less than vibrant, and he hopes to sing and dance inside the 1,020-seat auditorium when it opens.
“To me it’s really about a place to create magic,” Belushi said. “You never forget where you laugh.”
Mayor Gary Wheeler told the crowd he remembers going to the Holly and other theaters when he was a young boy.
“I spent a lot of time in the drive-ins, but that’s another story,” he said. Wheeler was an early supporter of the effort to renovate the Holly, helping push for city money to help with the project and reinvigorate the downtown.
“This is a dream come true to see the Holly close to reopening,” he said.
Brad Hicks, president and CEO of the Chamber of Medford/Jackson County, said the Holly had been a shooting star in the history of the city, and the renovation will help the Holly shine into Medford’s future.
“It’s going to take its place among those constant stars,” Hicks said, paraphrasing a quote from Belushi.
While the renovation is expected to be complete by the middle of 2020, the work will likely proceed in fits and starts, something the Holly has faced since the restoration was started in 2012 by Jefferson Public Radio. At the time, the facade was restored and failing trusses supporting the roof were repaired.
“I have to say, I wasn’t sure we were going to get to this point,” said Randy McKay, executive director of Jefferson Live!, which runs the Holly and the Cascade Theatre in Redding.
The Holly’s fundraising goal is $9.4 million, and supporters are still $3.5 million shy of that amount. Donations can be made at www.hollytheatre.org or by calling 541-772-3797.
Workers from Hamcon Builders of Eagle Point are concentrating on the front part of the building, including adding an elevator.
Once the front portion of the building is finished, work will begin on the stage, the tower above the stage, dressing rooms, a loading dock and other rooms on the stage side of the building.
The auditorium will be tackled in the last phase, along with lighting, seats and other finishing touches. When it’s finished, the Holly will be the largest theater venue in Southern Oregon.
At Tuesday’s groundbreaking, the portion of Sixth Street in front of the theater was closed. Sidewalks and portions of streets will be closed during construction.
The Holly Theatre in Medford, built in 1930, was southern Oregon’s first true movie palace. Over the decades, it fell into disrepair and was once scheduled for demolition. Now, an eight-year effort to restore the theater to its former glory has taken a big leap.
Actor and comedian Jim Belushi used a gold-painted sledge hammer to bash a hole in the wall of the theater, marking the beginning of the renovation project. Along with Medford’s mayor and Chamber president, Belushi welcomed the project as marking the revitalization of a neglected part of the city.
“It’s going to bring vibrancy to the quiet end of town. It’s going to help anchor downtown as an arts destination, and today we start this project that will be a catalyst for business, jobs and joy.”
Belushi is the campaign’s honorary chair. He lives in nearby Eagle Point.
Among the gathered crowd of more than a hundred, Medford resident Alice Thomsen recalled being in elementary school in 1962 and volunteering as an usher for the Disney film “Pollyanna.”
Thomsen says she’s thrilled to see the renovation get underway.
“It means a lot to me because I was here years ago when the Holly Theatre was very, very active,” she said. “It was one of the busiest places in town and it really meant a lot to us.”
The JPR Foundation is behind the nearly $9.5 million project. It’s using private investment, tax credits, a state grant and money raised from the community to launch the renovation. But about $3.5 million remains to be raised.
When it’s complete, the Holly will be the largest indoor concert and event venue between Eugene and Redding, with more than a thousand seats.
“There’s this shared feeling of, ‘We’re back in this world we all have loved so much’,” adds Sean Rees-Wemyss, who plays Harry’s boy, Albus. He has fond memories of his father reading the Harry Potter novels to him as a boy, while McKenna credits those books with sparking his childhood love of reading.
In Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Albus and Scorpius become friends. An anti-spoiler campaign called #KeepTheSecrets prevents a detailed discussion of the plot but this friendship, for obvious reasons, is complicated. The story picks up where The Deathly Hallows ended, with Harry and Draco packing their sons off to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
It’s a big deal to realise your parents were just human beings doing the best they could.
Gareth Reeves, who plays Harry Potter in The Cursed Child
Written by Jack Thorne – in conjunction with Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling and The Cursed Child director John Tiffany – it boasts genuinely jaw-dropping stagecraft; a mix of fire, water, flying and other feats that prompt strangers to ask each other during the intervals, “How did they do that?”
At its heart, however, The Cursed Child is a story about the past imprinting itself on the present. Harry, once an abused orphan, struggles with the realities of fatherhood while Albus finds his famous surname to be a burden.
“It made me reflect on that time in your life [as a teenager] where everything your parents say to you is just the most idiotic thing,” says Gareth Reeves, who plays Harry.
Like his co-stars Paula Arundell (Hermione Granger) and Gyton Grantley (Ron Weasley), Reeves is also a parent. “So I feel I could see that relationship from both sides,” he says. “It’s a really tricky time for parents, because they’re struggling to communicate and connect with their children.”
As Albus and Scorpius fight with their fathers, they turn to each other for support.
“It made me realise how important friendship is,” Arundell says. “If you look at Harry, Hermione and Ron, they represent a bond that all children hope to have when they feel so uniquely alone.”
Reeves: “This story feels timely. On the one hand, we have this magical romp but on other other hand, we’re talking about the dangers of loneliness and isolation. In the books, Draco is a foil for Harry but in this story, we get to hear the voice of that character; to hear him as an adult talk about that dark place he was in and what it means to be lonely.”
Weasley, in contrast, tends to retain good humour in moments of crisis. “As a teenager, I actually printed the words, ‘You’ve gotta laugh,’ on my bedroom wall,” Grantley says. “I can relate to Ron in that respect.”
Recently, Reeves’ eldest son, now 23, watched him perform in The Cursed Child. “I can already see he’s starting to think about me at his age; about the fact he’s the same age I was when I had him,” Reeves says. “It’s a big deal to realise your parents were just human beings doing the best they could.”
Michael Lallo is a senior entertainment writer at The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald
Our health reporter CHRIS ORD talks to the chief executive of Oxford mental health charity Restore about smashing stigma.
A serious lack of funding for mental health services in recent years means the support offered by charities and volunteers is more vital than ever before.
Founded in 1977, East Oxford charity Restore is one of the longest established services in the UK, providing help to those living with mental health issues to take control of their recovery, often teaching them new skills in the process, including horticulture, woodwork and other crafts.
Restore CEO Lesley Dewhurst has been at the charity since 2017 and was recently one of the loudest voices to speak out against £1.6m worth of proposed county council cuts to mental health services in Oxfordshire.
The council has since scrapped £1m of the budget reduction.
File photo of a volunteer working at the Restore Cafe off Cowley Road.
However, Mrs Dewhurst, who has lived in Oxford since 1985, said despite the council u-turn, the serious lack of funding in mental health continues to limit and prohibit support to those that need it most.
The 58-year-old, who has 30 years experience in the charity sector, said: “I’ve only been at Restore for 18 months, so I feel at the start of a long journey here in many ways.
“Initially, the priority was to make sure the organisation is financially stable and structurally sound.
“We have made excellent progress in this area and are now thinking more widely about how we improve and develop our services.
“Oxfordshire as an area receives the lowest government funding for mental health per capita in the country.
“There is a funding disparity between mental and physical health – mental health services are still the poor relation.
“We were really pleased that Oxfordshire County Council heard this message loud and clear last month, and as a result of Restore’s campaigning with others, have taken out a proposed £1m cut to mental health services.
“However, our services are still underfunded and we continue to make this point as powerfully as we can in a variety of ways and to a variety of audiences.”
As well as battling for improved funding, Mrs Dewhurst said the charity, with others, must also continue to challenge the stigma attached to mental health, opening up services to as diverse a population as possible (ethnicity, gender, social background) and making sure that as wide a population as possible are able to benefit from the training the charity offers.
Growing up in Portsmouth, Mrs Dewhurst developed a passion for the arts, leading her to eventually move to London to study English Literature at the University of London.
After spending time working in theatre as an actor and stage manager, a natural curiosity about the human mind and a desire to see people’s lives enhanced by the creative process eventually drew her to the charity sector.
She said: “I love the way that human beings are so different. I find great joy in helping people to develop – either as staff members, volunteers or service users.
“I find their life stories so interesting and learn so much from the people I come across.
“I’d hate to be working in a field that didn’t interest me – and the charity sector is endlessly fascinating. It’s never boring.”
Looking back on her career to date Mrs Dewhurst said “I have been working in the charity sector for 30 years now.
“I have always worked with people who have different vulnerabilities – homelessness, substance misuse, offending and mental ill health.
“My experiences as a front line worker for Elmore Community Services was fundamental in learning about the diversity of problems experienced by people who cross over all of these client groups.
“Over the years, I had always been aware of Restore – indeed, in other roles, I have referred people to Restore and seen them benefit from the services on offer which has helped them flourish and grow.
“So, when the opportunity came to lead Restore’s services as chief executive, I was thrilled to take it with both hands.”
However, the nature of the work means often dealing with society’s most vulnerable which Mrs Dewhurst said can be challenging on an emotional level.
“The nature of the problems that our service users experience can provoke great pain and misery – as well as joy. We are brought back to life’s fundamentals on a daily basis,” she said.
File photo of fundraisers hosting an event at the Restore Cafe.
“But then talking to them and hearing first-hand about the effect our services have had on their lives – meeting them in the street a few months later and hearing how they are flourishing elsewhere and moving on with their lives, is very rewarding.”
Restore is part of the Oxfordshire Mental Health Partnership, which sees the charity work with Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, Oxfordshire Mind and other organisations, to offer a more cohesive service for those with mental health issues in the county.
And Mrs Dewhurst said it was this idea of integrated working that was essential to the success of the future of mental health support.
She said: “One of the main priorities is to make sure that health and social care services are as joined up as possible.
“For third sector organisations to be treated as equal partners by the public sector.”
Restore intends to continue to grow its services across Oxfordshire to provide support to as many people as possible, and later this month will be holding a fundraising charity auction with actor Jeremy Irons.
However, the priorities going forward for the charity are, according to Mrs Dewhurst to simply ‘listen and to respond’.