Ward Memorial Theater was designed by Henry C. Koch and constructed in 1881. It was originally constructed as a two-story multi-purpose building that included a hall, restaurant, and train passenger waiting room. The Hall was also used as a worship space until the construction of a freestanding chapel. In 1897, the building was remodeled for use solely as a theater and hosted many appearances by lecturers, vaudeville troupes, and musicians. Performers appearing elsewhere in Milwaukee often gave free shows at the Theater for veterans’ benefit. As the motion picture industry developed, the theater acquired equipment to show movies.
Today, Ward Memorial Theater has experienced significant roof and water infiltration damage, leaving portions exposed to the elements. In November 2011, on e of the theater’s most notable features, a stained glass window depicting a life sized figure of General Ulysses S. Grant mounted on a a bay horse, was removed from the theater for safekeeping until repairs are complete.
Construction crews are at work to make the necessary repairs to prevent any further damage. The repairs will address issues with roof trusses to prevent a collapse and water infiltration issues. These repairs are expected to be complete within the year.