Bar owner buys Community Theatre building

Published On: Jan 15 2013 06:53:24 PM CST   Updated On: Jan 15 2013 06:56:28 PM CST
LA CROSSE, Wis. -

Jason LaCourse takes another swing at the wall with his sledgehammer.

"There's a passageway between the [La Crosse Community] Theatre and the bar that's been walled off for the past 20-something years that I'm re-opening," said LaCourse.

After all, he bought the building.

Over the weekend, LCT officially started moving out of the Fifth Avenue building and into the new Weber Center for the Performing Arts by the river.

Buying the space has been a part of LaCourse’s plan since he purchased The Cavalier Lounge next door a little more than two years ago.

For LCT, moving out has been in the works for, well, a little bit longer.

"Like, about 47 years. We moved into this theater in 1968. And when we moved into this space, the plan at that time was this was a temporary home," said LCT Artistic Director Greg Parmeter.

LaCourse said the soon-to-be Cavalier Theater will have a little something for everyone, from comedy to music.

“Fifth Avenue is kind of desolate right now,” said LaCourse. “Maybe it'll start some other businesses moving into the empty storefronts and start helping Fifth Avenue get a little more pulse."

It marks the end of an era for LCT.

"It's the echo that gets me. Ever since we moved everything out -- you walk up here and it used to be very muffled up here, very quiet. And now you walk up and just the sound sort of echoes around the space. And that's sort of strange to me,” said Parmeter, looking around what used to be his office.

He said he's excited the theater will continue to be a place for performance in the next chapter of its history.

"This has been an important hub of the artistic community here in La Crosse for a very long time. And the fact that it continues to be that now, I think, is good for everyone," said Parmeter.

The building is in for a few renovations before it opens its doors again as Cavalier Theater. Besides knocking down the wall connecting it to the bar, LaCourse said he plans to take out the first few rows of seats, remodel the lobby and add a concession area.

LaCourse hopes to have Cavalier Theater open as early as mid-March.

He said he already knows what he wants for his opening act, but is keeping it a secret for now.