LaGrange Theatre

80 S. La Grange Road,
La Grange, IL 60525

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Showing 26 - 50 of 82 comments

corvetteguy1963 on July 20, 2008 at 12:11 am

I went there today to see Zohan.I have not been there in a year or so,and was wondering when the mercy killing of this theatre will happen? Whomever is running it is driving it off a cliff,they cannot do a better job if they tried! What a sticky floored,busted seat,overflowed toilet,haphazardly painted,torn up theatre! The Granada when it was in the process of being TORN DOWN ,was in better shape than this dive.This degradation has happened quickly and recently! WAY TO GO!!!

BigTomEH on May 17, 2008 at 9:45 am

It may have cost me my job there, but this is exactly what I was trying to get across to the owners the whole time. Not only do they not know—or, seemingly, care—what they’re doing, they wouldn’t even listen to the suggestions of someone who spent 5 years in the industry. Scott, you’re not overreacting. That theater was doomed the day Horton’s obtained it. I say it’s time to give the Johnson family a call and have Classic Cinemas buy the theatre and restore it the right way (ironically, most people think the LaGrange is part of the Classic Cinemas family anyway).

Broan on May 5, 2008 at 12:10 am

Actually LHAT would probably be a more appropriate organization, although THSA would probably be able to refer them to local resources.

PhatFSJ on May 4, 2008 at 7:32 pm

…they need to step in to offer their guidance and assistance. The Hortons people are clearly in over their heads, they can’t even form a long-term business plan with which to obtain additional funding from the village of LaGrange for continued restoration. Come to think of it, considering what’s been done, maybe that’s a good thing.

My point is, they need someone with the right head about them, someone with the right experience, managing this project of theirs.

PhatFSJ on May 4, 2008 at 5:25 pm

It IS distressing.

Theater 2, not so much. It’s being used as a “multimedia” theater, with a stage, directional lighting, and an overhead projector. Their plan is to use it for community functions and stage plays. Good idea, seems to function pretty well for that use. If they did nothing more with this theater, they’d be making a great decision.

Theaters 3 and 4 are the ones I’d call defaced, to similarly quote several others who have also seen the work. There are crude murals on the walls, with the former wooden beltline below the wall curtains having been raised to approximately 6' with what appears to be a florecent backlighting over the murals. Looks rushed, sloppy, and haphazard. Theater 3 has an American flag Uncle Sam theme that’s delightfully random and pointless, with theater 4 sporting a similar tangent. Clean what was there, replace the seats, and that should have been it. Money would have been better spent restoring to something relevant and worthy of this historic structure rather than the current byproduct, something better suited for the walls of an elementary school.

The lobby is an abortion, an even bigger shame. Whoever is in charge of this thing hasn’t a clue what they’re doing and should really concentrate their efforts elsewhere. The THSA needs to step in somewhere.

By the time they’re done there won’t be anything left to landmark.

Broan on May 4, 2008 at 12:37 pm

That sounds distressing. What do you mean by defaced? Where are the murals?

PhatFSJ on May 4, 2008 at 11:40 am

I am extremely disappointed with what has been done to the theater.

The new seats are great, however, theaters 2-4 have been defaced, there’s no other way to put it. The classic look and feel of the former facade, however dirty and in need of cleaning, have instead been degraded with “murals” that are loud, shoddy, and irrelevant. If money to repair and improve the theater is in short supply, why was it spent on things like this?

The work being done in the lobby is unspeakable. It’s so… yellow. 80s track lighting, concrete painted over, painted plywood, wiremolding…

Does Hortons have a business plan? Their most recent meeting with the LaGrange Board says… NO. They really need to hire someone who specializes in rehabbing and restoring old theater structures. Until then, there’s a lot of money being wasted, and what little history is left behind, destroyed. Someone needs to step up and set things straight.

Scott on April 26, 2008 at 8:08 am

It must have been tough on the residents of LaGrange when the price went from $1.75 to $2.00 in 1998.

Bischof on April 26, 2008 at 7:36 am

I may warrant noting that the statement regarding when ticket pries last went up is totally incorrect.

From 1983 to 1998, ticket prices were “As Always, Only $1.75”.

In Mid-1998, prices were increased to $2.

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on April 24, 2008 at 9:10 am

The La Grange will be raising it’s admission prices to $3.50 to help cover the costs of renovations. I wonder if that will affect the attendance at this second run house.

From the theatre’s website:

‘Remember When…

The Blues Brothers were on a “Mission from God"
"ET Phone home” made you cry
You were shocked that Vader was Luke’s Father

These were playing the last time La Grange Theatre raised ticket prices! Starting April 2nd, we will be raising our ticket price to $3.50, to help in the continued renovation of our theatres.'

Please continue to patronize this theatre everybody. The owners are making an earnest attempt to stay in business.

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on February 12, 2008 at 8:06 am


It was nice meeting you the other night. I hope that I don’t sound patronizing, but I am glad that you go out and enjoy movies too. And yes, “Letters From Iwo Jima” is a fantastic film.

RobinW on February 11, 2008 at 10:48 pm

I was at this theatre only once, and that was to see “Letters From Iwo Jima”. As I pointed out on the page for the Music Box, I’m deaf but I enjoy watching movies just as much as everybody else does. I also enjoy going to the movies, but I’m limited to films with subtitles. So when this film was showing, my husband and I went out here to see it. Incidentally, it was one of the few theatres in Chicagoland that showed it.

Unfortunately, what we didn’t realize was that the first several minutes of the film are in English, with no subtitles! So my husband, who is a “hearing person” tried “signing” for me so I could follow it (I can talk and lip-read, but I mainly use American Sign Language)! No matter, the rest of the movie is in Japanese with English subtitles (whew!) and quite frankly, it is one of the best movies I have ever seen.

The theatre seems a little run-down, but it looks like they are trying to do renovations. Unfortunately, we were in one of the un-renovated auditoriums! The seats are at a weird angle to the screen and they are very unforgiving. My rear-end was sore after almost three hours of sitting there, but it was a fine film. The people that work there seem very pleasant too!

If you haven’t seen “Letters From Iwo Jima”, rent it or buy it! It is great. We bought the DVD about a week after we saw it in the theatre. I was able to put the closed-captioning on so that I could better understand the English part.

GaryRickert on February 1, 2008 at 11:19 am

OK, so I assume that with Tom gone either no one knows who is now “in charge” or no one cares, the place is closed or…

GaryRickert on January 14, 2008 at 2:11 pm

OK, so who is in charge now?

Bischof on January 14, 2008 at 1:35 pm

Tom is no more…

GaryRickert on January 14, 2008 at 1:13 pm

Tom, how about a report on the progress of the renovation? Will there be an open house?

Bischof on January 14, 2008 at 1:01 pm

The photo of the facade is circa 1978, however the photo of the lobby is pre-1940s, before theaters had candy concessions.

Bischof on November 29, 2007 at 9:02 pm

Wow, the LaGrange JUST became yuppie? Cripe, it’s been yuppie since the late 80s…

CatherineDiMartino on November 27, 2007 at 2:13 pm

My good friend and fellow CT'er Paul F told me about this theatre and so I went with my husband to see it. We saw SHREK THE THIRD here. I like this place. No, it’s not the most modern, up-to-date place. But the employees are nice and the service is friendly. We “triple-dated” this past weekend: Me and my husband, Paul F. and his fiancee, and my husband’s sister and her boyfriend. We saw 3:10 TO YUMA. We had dinner down the street from there.

This place certainly is certainly popular with the locals. That is not the problem. It does need a lot of work. It is old. Yes, it is subdivided, but it still has a certain charm. I wouldn’t even mind if they kept it a four-screener. But, LaGrange has become “Yuppie.” And belive me, “Yuppies” are a race of people who have no care for esthetics and can’t see the intrisic value of having a nice, inexpensive theatre.

The value of the theatre is that it adds a touch of culture (something else Yuppies are antipathetic about) and individuality (ditto) to the area. Plus it can add $$ value to Downtown LaGrange. Hell, six of us made a trip from the City on the Metra, spent $$ in a local restaurant for dinner, and $$ in the theatre.

CatherineDiMartino on November 6, 2007 at 11:19 am

The status of this theatre should be changed to “Open/Renovating”.

BigTomEH on October 17, 2007 at 9:16 pm

I’ve been trying to make an appointment at the historical society, but it’s difficult to do around my work schedule. I’m trying to research some old newspaper articles I still have access to via UIC’s electronic resources, but haven’t had much luck. Thank you, though, to Matt Bischof. I still haven’t located the doors or handles—I’m wondering if I’m looking in the wrong place. Maybe I just overlooked them. Or they could be buried under piles upon piles of seats.

Is any building really safe even if it’s on the register? They tore down the DuPage Theatre in Lombard this year even though it had landmark status. I still don’t understand how that happened.

By the wayâ€"Stan Thomas, a local teacher and the director of the LaGrange Hometown Players, asked me to pose this question to y’all:

Does anyoneâ€"especially you, Mattâ€"have any old pictures of the theatre? We’d like to put a collage together that we hope will adorn the walls of the LaGrange after the remodel. So far, we’re pretty much limited to the postcard of the theatre and pharmacy from Digital Past, a few scans of the old marquee when it was still showing live theatre, and modern-day photos. Anything from the single-screen days or from the major renovations in the 1980s would be great.

By the way, before I forget—Stand

Bischof on October 7, 2007 at 12:12 am

Tom –

Have you ID'ed the BK doors and/or BK door handles that used to be part of the front doors of the theater lobby? I believe they, like so many other “artifacts”, were stowed in the basement. Big, 1" thick glass doors… and if they didn’t keep the glass, I KNOW they kept the handles. Look in the corridors of the basement… that room before the entrance to the catacombs under the theaterswhere the letters, well, WERE kept (not sure if they’re still there). Something else that would look great in a case, or maybe even a shadow box in the lobby!

Oh, and you’re right… it’s part of the Tivoli/Chicago heritage! Rapp & Rapp built the LaGrange, as well as so many others. The York, however, was originally designed by Elmer Behrns. Elmer Behrns is also known for St. Charles Illinois' Arcada Theater. The York is really quite similar to LaGrange in a lot of ways, having also been updated in the late 1930s by Roy Blass.

Interesting thing about Sam Katz… he not only founded BK, but he was the head of production for MGM; double-dipped the chip, you might say. Meanwhile, Barney Balaban was the chairman of Paramount Corp., however, he died in 1917, at which time his younger brother Abraham took the primary ‘B’ role.

Here’s a good book (click link below) worth reading… great illustrations!

When are we going to see the theater listed here, Tom? –

View link

GaryRickert on October 5, 2007 at 5:53 pm

Tom, did you check the “Black loose-leaf binders” I told you about at the Theatre Historical Society. These are the B&K books – a wealth of information; I think there is one for each neighborhood.

BigTomEH on October 5, 2007 at 5:47 pm

Any one know who the original architect was? Roy Blass converted the theatre from live stage to cinema, but who actually built the building? It seems that with its proximity to Chicago and some of the other “cinema treasures,” I’d like to say that the same architects who built the Tivoli, York, or Chicago may be responsible, but I can’t say for sure. Many design similarities, though, to those theatres. I’m patiently waiting for the LaGrange Public Library to reopen so I can do some research!