Isle Theatre

History of the


Cumberland, Wisconsin 

The Isle Theatre has undergone renovation, being completely restored and improved from the original, and was re-opened on April 18, 2008.  It was built in 1921 as the Zim Zim Theatre.  It was purchased and remodeled in 1935, and underwent a name change as the result of a naming competition.  It is located in Downtown Cumberland, Wisconsin at 1345 2nd Avenue, and appropriately named “Isle Theatre”, piggy-backing off Cumberland’s nick-name the “Island City”, as the city limits are surrounded by the waters of Beaver Dam Lake. 

The theatre had been closed since 1997, and with ideas of the building being torn down, former City Councilman, Tom Nesvold, pursued a buyer to preserve the downtown icon.  Mark Ruppel, CEO of Ardisam located in Cumberland, says the company bought the building from the city, planning to re-open the theatre for the community because it holds so much history for the town and memories for the people who live there.  "I'm a long time resident, I had my first date there like everybody else."  Ruppel says what better way to bring a piece of history back to Cumberland and share it with the whole town.  "There's nothing like experiencing a blockbuster movie that comes to town. It's great to be at home with your family but it's even greater to have your family out.  It's what creates community."   

Restoring the building isn't just about the past. It's creating a future.  Mark and Ron Ruppel have partnered with Tom and Deanna Nesvold in creating an entertainment destination.  The theatre offers area residents and guests a state-of-the-art viewing experience while retaining the character of the original theatre.  With input from local artist, Jeff Hile, the original tin ceiling has been restored and is the focal point of the art deco interior design.  The old projector is on display, and 150 original seats re-upholstered, including the classic “love-seats”.  While the theatre was under construction, a vintage poster was found folded up in the ceiling at the back of the building.  The poster is from the 1919 Paramount Pictures Silent Movie, “Louisiana”, starring Vivian Martin and is on display, along with historical Cumberland Photos.  The remodel includes an entirely new lobby, snack bar, rest rooms, and a new sound and projection system.  Nezzy’s Sports Bar & Grill is adjacent to the theatre at the back-side of the building and has access to the theatre to expand the entertainment value for movie-goers.  The theatre is available to rent for special occasions or meetings.   

We hope you enjoy the Isle Theatre experience!



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