Rogers Cinema: Young but determined

By Kris Leonhardt

coContinuation of the previous week


The previous owners, Bette and Anne Adler, were on board for a young Paul Rogers to buy their family’s theater business, as did Rogers’ family; but the struggle for funding that ensued only reinforced his resolve.

“Well, I was 23 at the time,” Rogers recalls. “It took me over a year to get the funding for this.

“It wasn’t easy; every bank in Marshfield turned me down at first. But I made up my mind and went to Wausau in First Wisconsin…which was the largest bank in the state at the time. Anyway, they agreed to give me the loan, and my parents at the time provided their modest home as collateral, and then we were a bit tight and the Adler girls agreed to a second mortgage for five years.

“I think in 1972 it was about a quarter of a million dollars for the theater. And that was a lot of money.

“The problem we had is that cinemas are still not bought and sold very often even today. And the bank was like, ‘I don’t know what this thing is worth. It’ll never be sold’ and stuff like that. I said, ‘There’s a reason for this.’”

Rogers said that when Citizens National Bank in Marshfield found out he was going to get a loan at Wausau, they changed their minds.

The Eagle Sign

“They didn’t want Wisconsin to come to Marshfield first and make loans to companies,” Rogers recalled.

“It all started in 1971. And by April 1972 we had agreed on everything.”

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Rogers then “twinned” the theater at 419 South Central Avenue in Marshfield and named it Rogers Cinema I and II.

His purchase meant the demerger of the Adlers’ remaining theaters in Marshfield and Waupaca.

“[I thought]that was just a bridge too far for me at the time,” Rogers said of the Waupaca deal.

He then persuaded the manager in Waupaca to buy the theater.

“The deal was that both theaters had to close at the same time, on the same day, you know. In other words, they would not liquidate; The Eagle Girls didn’t want to sell Marshfield and keep Waupaca,” Rogers explained.

After 15 years of ownership, the Waupaca manager sold the theater to someone else. When that owner died, the Adler sisters feared what would become of the theater named after their mother, Rosa. Roger’s devotion to the Adlers would ensure that one day that theater would return to circles.

Continued next week

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