History of Three Lakes Center for the Arts

blakes-theaterThis community theater is unique. Of the several hundred movie theaters built in Quonset huts after WWII, TLCFA is one of only six Quonset theaters left in the entire country still showing movies. Also it is the only such theater that has been restored after going dark for over two decades. Built for the Seabees in WWII, this original Quonset found its way to Three Lakes in 1946 and became a center of movie entertainment throughout our area.

blakes-theater-interiorIn 1946 The Three Lakes community felt that in order to be a tourist destination, it needed a movie theater and (ala the Green Bay Packers) sold shares of stock to the community to raise the money.

A little known fact is that the original theater was designed and built by a local sports hero, Cy Williams, who won an award for the design. Cy was one of the all time great baseball players – a peer with players like Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth. He was only the second person ever to hit 250 home runs (Rogers Hornsby did it first) – and that was during the “dead ball” era.

cy-williamsThe renovation of the building has taken over $400,000 of donations and fund raising to date and thousands of hours of volunteer effort. It has once again become a Three Lakes community-wide project, led by the Three Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCFA- a 501[3]c).

The goal of TLCFA is to provide a center – a hub – for arts and entertainment in our locale – just as it did in 1946 when it was built. All of us in and around Three Lakes can be proud of the fact that this theater is being saved while so many have been destroyed.

If you want to lend a hand to the adventure, let us know. Contributions are, of course, welcome but there are so many other ways to help. We need volunteers to sell theater tickets, run the concessions, be part of the gallery team – or just make a special effort to keep up with our changing movie and live performance programs and attend and enjoy them.

If you live outside the area – spread the word about this unique theater and art center. If you live here year around, feel free to brag about what a special thing your community is doing for the arts and entertainment up here in the North Woods. Three Lakes really is a place where dreams do come true – together we are once again proving that!


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Three Lakes Center for the Arts
1760 Superior Street
Three Lakes, WI 54562

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