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EXPANDING AGAIN! 2 new screens, ALL-stadium seating, and reconstruction of theatres #1 and #2. Starts in April, should be done by November (then again, that was the schedule of the last expansion, but they didn’t finish until spring. We’ll see what happens).
The Elk Grove 10. Who would’ve imagined?
Let’s all play Lotto…
Anyone ever see the LaGrange/LaGrange Park edition of the ‘Images of America’ series? They’re wonderful books—I’m sure that edition is available at the Borders down the street. Flip to the page that features the original LaGrange Theatre lobby as a movie palace; it’s so ornate!
Don’t bank on Classic Cinemas buying it…they just reopened the North Riverside Mall theater, and they were forced to drop out of a planned 11-screener as part of Tinley Park’s urban renewal. Needless to say, the economy has not been kind to the entertainment industry. ‘The Dark Knight’ really saved Hollywood this year.
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).
That’s not why. It’s so there’s room if one screen is running two shows. If the theater did expand to eight screens, they’d either A) expand the marquee to 10 slots, like Elk Grove Cinema; or B) convert it to a digital marquee, like the York.
In most cases, a theater has the capability of running two shows on every screen in the house; it’s just not very profitable to do so. But, technically speaking, it can be done. A two-screener can show four movies just as a twenty-screener can show forty movies.
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 yâ€™all:
Does anyoneâ€"especially you, Mattâ€"have any old pictures of the theatre? Weâ€™d like to put a collage together that we hope will adorn the walls of the LaGrange after the remodel. So far, weâ€™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
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!
The lobby and renovated theaters look great (they all now have double-doors so you can’t hear the popcorn machines or loud people in the lobby or hallways).
Matt—just the other day, I received some mail addressed to John Bischof. I think it was just a flyer from Paramount about an upcoming screening, but still…weird. Especially to have received that just a matter of days after reading your most recent posts!
Well, I did some snooping around these past few weeks. Turns out the dome and the old murals are still intact, just hidden by the “new” drop-tile ceilings in each theater. Not as much damage as I would have thought to the dome. Mostly, it looks like the paint is peeling from all the heat (the air conditioner units and the lamphouse exhausts probably don’t help it much). The neon clock is still functioning (well, the clock is, not the neon) and hangs by the projectionists' work bench.
Interesting finds in the basements as well. Though largely used for storage by the LaGrange Hometown Players, there’s some vintage stuff here and there; remnants of old speakers, spotlights, an old ticketing machine, spare parts of all sorts, extra chairs…all in all, kinda nifty. It’s interesting how the cinema looks from a patron’s point of view vs. seeing it from these areas. It’s like a shell within a shell. It’s too bad no one ever utilized the full building; such a waste of space! With a little more careful planning, someone probably could have squeezed a few more auditoria in there.
Some interesting notes to pass along as I learn about them. Roy Blase, a prominent local architect, was responsible for the stage-to-cinema conversion and theater chop job at both the LaGrange Theatre and the York Theater in Elmhurst. For those who have been to both, you will begin to notice many, many similarities between the LaGrange in its current state and the York Theatre before its major expansion/restoration. I’m a former employee of Classic Cinemas and now the current GM for the LaGrange; this upcoming winter, we’re kicking off a renovation project that will upgrade the main auditorium and lobby, probably similar to York’s. Long story short: yes, it was a terrible chop job, although thankfully many of the aspects of the original theater did survive, and we’re hoping to restore those elements (mostly the trim, possibly the dome). In the end, it’s all going to boil down to money, and what we can get away with while remaining within building/fire code. It’s as simple as that.
But the good news: LaGrange Theatre is open, and it’s here to stay!
Thanks for the site compliments.
From what I know (nothing is official yet), plans include moving the marquee on Arlington Heights Road closer to our entrance, adding two (maybe three) screens (possibly stadium seating, possibly with digital projection also, and maybe new party rooms underneath the stadium seating like they did at York Theatre). I would imagine we’d need more bathrooms and another drink station, since we could easily add at least 600 seats to the current capacity (which is about 1100 now). Another issue is parking…
Anyone know if the house (now the mobile home office) that sits on the lot near Elmhurst Road is the original Magnus farmhouse? Anyone have photos of the drive-in?
visit www.geocities.com/elkgrovetheaters for history on Elk Grove’s theater history, including the Oasis Drive-In and the Jerry Lewis-turned-Classic Cinemas Elk Grove Theatre.
BY THE WAY—
for those of you interested in the REAL, accurate, complete history of the Elk Grove Theatre (and the old Oasis Drive-In), I encourage you to visit www.geocities.com/elkgrovetheaters
in addition to the histories, there are reviews, showtimes, FAQs, and more.
Yes, it did originally open as a Jerry Lewis theater. In fact, on one of the circuit breaker boxes one of the switches still reads “Jerry Lewis logo”. The insides of the auditoriums still reflect the color schemes used in the old building.
New in March 2005 — the all-new, Kodak/Barco DP 100 DLP cinema projection system! I was at first skeptical to the new technology, but after seeing movies in that auditorium I have to admit that digital is better than film. The picture’s clarity and steadiness simply cannot be matched by film.