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The east wall of the former Warner Grand Theater will be moved intact on Tuesday.

MSO will move the Warner Grand Theater wall 35 feet east on Tuesday

One of the most – and at the same time least – exciting moments in the transformation of the old Warner Grand Theater into a new concert hall for the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra is slated to take place on Tuesday, Aug. 13.

Beginning at about 7:30 a.m., the seven-story, brick wall that is the back wall of the stage area in the theater, will be moved 35 feet east, to help create not only more space on the stage and behind it, but also to help ensure good acoustics for the orchestra in a hall that was designed for films.

The wall will not be dismantled, but moved intact as one single piece, as required by the National Parks Service, which has in its purview the renovation of historically designated buildings receiving historic tax credits.

An interior view of the wall.

Last fall, workers removed terra cotta balconettes and other architectural details for safekeeping during the process.

The move is exciting because it's a rare procedure.

But considering it is expected to require about seven hours – it takes about 30 minutes to move about five feet, then another half hour to reset the hydraulic system for the next spurt – it will also be a rather repetitive, slow-moving process to witness.

The MSO purchased the building in 2017 and broke ground on the renovation project in June 2018.

Second Street has been closed to traffic since work began. When the project is complete, the street will be narrower than before.

The theater renovation is expected to be complete by summer 2020, with a projected opening in September.

A Facebook event page has been created for the move.

You can read more about the project and see photographs here and see still more images here.


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