Rogers Cinema: Young, but determined

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By Kris Leonhardt

Con continuation of the previous week

Former owners, Bette and Anne Adler, were on board for a young Paul Rogers to buy their family’s theater business, as was Rogers’ family; but, the struggle to secure the resulting funding only strengthened his resolve.

“Well, so I was 23 at the time,” Rogers recalled. “It took me over a year to get the necessary funding.

“It wasn’t easy; all the banks in Marshfield initially turned me down. But I was determined and went to Wausau in First Wisconsin…it was the biggest bank in the state in the Anyway, they agreed to lend me and my parents, at the time, put their modest house as collateral, and then we were still a little short and the Adler girls accepted a second mortgage for five years.

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

“The problem we had was that theatres, even today, aren’t bought and sold very often. And the bank said, ‘I don’t know what this stuff is worth. It’s never sold’ and stuff like that. I said ‘there’s a reason for that’.

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

The Adler sign

“They didn’t want the first Wisconsin to come to Marshfield and do business loans,” Rogers recalled.

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

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

Its purchase meant separating the Adlers’ remaining theaters in Marshfield and Waupaca.

“(I thought) it was just a bridge too far at that point for me,” Rogers said of the Waupaca venture.

He then convinced the manager of Waupaca to buy this theater.

“The deal was that both theaters were to close at the same time, same day, you know. In other words, they weren’t going to liquidate; the Adler girls didn’t want to sell Marshfield and keep Waupaca,” explained Rogers.

After 15 years of ownership, the manager of Waupaca sold the theater to another individual. When that owner died, the Adler sisters feared what would become of the theater named after their mother, Rosa. Rogers’ devotion to the Adlers would ensure that this theater would one day return to the fold.

Continued next week

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