Palace Theater may be gone, but controversy lives on
The final curtain has fallen on Superior's Palace Theater. Demolition of the theater, which first opened its doors March 26, 1917, is nearly complete. Thursday afternoon, as crews from RJS Construction demolished the alley-side of the structure o...
The final curtain has fallen on Superior's Palace Theater.
Demolition of the theater, which first opened its doors March 26, 1917, is nearly complete.
Thursday afternoon, as crews from RJS Construction demolished the alley-side of the structure once called the "theater beautiful," the stage curtain broke loose and floated down over the rubble, Public Works Director Jeff Vito said.
But the animosity created in the battle to save the theater is far from over.
"Playing by the rules -- that's all we've ever wanted you to do," Judy Pinkoski, a member of the Friends of Superior, told city councilors Thursday night during a special meeting.
Pinkoski referred to a recent decision by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that would require the city to revise an environmental review of an unrelated project and meet requirements of the National Historic Preservation Act before demolishing the historic vaudeville and movie house designed by C.W. and George Rapp, brothers renowned for theater design in the early 1900s. She also referred to the haste to move ahead with demolition after city officials learned Friends of Superior was filing a motion for a federal restraining order in Madison.
Friends of Superior had hoped to keep the city from demolishing the building before officials complied with a recent HUD decision. HUD was planning to release community development block grant money to reimburse the city for the expense of purchasing two taverns north of the theater before the complaint was lodged with HUD by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. After the complaint was made, HUD officials informed the city it would have to redefine the project area to receive $376,900 previously promised for the purchase of Odyssey's and the End Zone bars.
Municipal officials had no plans to use block grant money to demolish the theater Douglas County gave to the city in 2002. To avoid mingling demolition costs for the bars and the theater, the city plans to use city revenue to cover those expenses because, Ross said previously, it's more cost-effective to demolish the two buildings at the same time.
Originally, the city had planned to raze the Palace on Tuesday, but Ross put those plans on hold after his office received a letter from HUD on Monday. It said HUD would only release CDBG money for the tavern purchases if the city revised its environmental review of the former bars and met the requirements of the National Historic Preservation Act before demolishing the theater.
However, city officials then received word that a federal injunction was being sought in Madison. Ross ordered the building demolished, and work began Wednesday afternoon to take down the Palace.