Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Ringling Theatre

Ringling Theater by William 74
Ringling Theater, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
I suppose that I should have some sort of interesting, year ending post for you, but instead I have this, a shot I took on a sunny October afternoon. First, some history.

Opened in 1915, the Al. Ringling Theatre is located in the town of Baraboo, Wisconsin. Built by Albert Ringling (of the circus family - Baraboo was the winter headquarters of the circus for many years), this fantastic house was designed by noted theater architects Rapp & Rapp. Originally a vaudeville and silent film palace, the Ringling is still operating today, as a movie house (Lincoln was opening when I shot this). The Ringling is one of the oldest continuously operating theaters in the United States.

Anyway, I'd never heard of the place till I saw it. I was grinding along the highway, returning to my Chicago area home from a brief visit to Minneapolis. I'd gotten a late start on the drive up, ending up spending much of it on the road after dark, putting paid to my plans of doing some shooting along the way. So, I made sure I had the time to make at least one stop on the return trip-and was greeted with a spectacular day. I looked at my map and decided on the town of Baraboo, Wisconsin.

Why Baraboo? I liked the name - I remember seeing a picture in a book about trains, showing the station with a big sign on the side that said "BARABOO". It stuck in my mind as one of those classic upper Midwestern names, like Sleepy Eye or Oconomowoc, and I had a good feeling that Baraboo would have a great downtown.

I wasn't disappointed - Baraboo's downtown is quite charming, and I passed a nice hour looking around at stuff on this lazy fall afternoon. But really, to find a grand old vaudeville house, complete with neon sign, right downtown? I wouldn't have thought it, but there it was.

So there you have it, a short story to round out the year.

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