Theater company wants to convert former fire station into performance venue

Quasimondo Physical Theatre plans to purchase building from the city

The former firehouse at 5151 N. 35th St.

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:12 pm

Milwaukee theater company Quasimondo Physical Theatre is looking to convert a former fire station on the city’s north side into a performance space, creating a permanent home for the group.

Quasimondo plans to purchase and restore the two-story, 9,864-square-foot building at 5151 North 35th St., which is owned by the city. The red brick building, which once served as North Milwaukee’s fire station and village hall, features a 56-foot tower.

The former firehouse at 5151 N. 35th St.

Brian Rott, artistic director for Quasimondo Physical Theatre, said the group has been looking for a permanent space in recent years after renting venues for rehearsals and performances.

“For a theater company, it’s important to have a base where you can grow a community and to have a place where you can invite people to get to know your company — not only the productions you do, but the additional programming, such as education, classes, outreach, events,” Rott said.

Rott said the group plans to create a black box performance space, offices, a rehearsal hall and classroom studio space. He said the building, which was constructed in 1901, has been well-preserved and is the “perfect facility” for the group’s purposes.

Plans for the first floor haven’t been solidified, but Rott envisions the space would be to rented out to other organizations or businesses, possibly for offices, a coffee shop or classes. Converting the building into a performance space would create more access to the arts on Milwaukee’s north side, Rott said.

“We’re excited to be a part of the restoration and development of the historical north Milwaukee,” Rott said. “We’re excited to preserve the history, through the physical building, of this neighborhood. We really want to bring it up to its original luster and we think it’s a good opportunity to bring arts to an underserved population in Milwaukee, where there aren’t that many performance and visual arts going on.”

The city will sell the building to Quasimondo for $40,000, Rott said. The group is looking to raise $150,000 for the first phase of the project.

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