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Removing the marquee exposed “Crocker Theater” enscribed in the front but it otherwise looked the same. I have an article in the local paper showing all the seats, stage, curtain, and even the projecting equipment and an organ. That was in the late 1980’s.
Several people made some effort to get it reopened then but nothing came of it. Since that time it, according to local sources, was gutted. I have no idea of any of the interrior was saved.
RIP. I’ll miss it.
I have enjoyed this outdoor theater many times. It is very family oriented and a great place to bring children.
The situation that the Crocker Theater now finds itself pretty much represents the feeling of the city planners regarding downtown Elgin. I think that they are under the impression that building enough condos will cause a mythical “critical mass” of people living downtown. This will then produce all manner of retail and entertainment enterprises.
It will, in all probability, produce only enough such commerce to provide some of the needs of nearby citizens. Consider Sunset Park-the first post-WWII housing development in Elgin. It has a strip mall next to it. The same can be said for other such developments such as Wing Park Manor, Eagle Heights, Century Oaks, and so on.
People just aren’t going to come from other parts of Elgin to visit a Walgreens in downtown Elgin.
But they just might come to a properly renovated and properly run Crocker Theater. There are thousands of classic movies from the silent era onward to today. Some are not available on DVD and even those that are benefit from being shown using the equipment for which they were filmed in an environment they were designed for. The Crocker could go for years on such fare. Who among movie lovers would not like to see their favorite movie(s) on the big screen?
Add a few local restaurants and Elgin would have the core of a “downtown” again. I don’t think that Ackemans and Spiese’s will ever grace downtown Elgin again. But it should, in my opinion, be a place for all of us in Elgin to enjoy.
A riverside park is a step in the right direction but the rest of the plan will result in nothing more (or less) than an upscale (and probably ugly) housing development with an upscale (and probably ugly) downtown strip mall.
I, too, think that the idea of erecting more condos downtown is an awful idea that is made even worse by razing one of Elgin’s gems in the process. Hasn’t Elgin learned anything since 1966 when it allowed the Watch Factory to be demolished? Is it an absolutely 100% certainty that this horrible plan will be undertaken? Up to a point, I agree that one of things downtown Elgin needs is people. But people do not have to live downtown to contribute to its commerce. (Witness the riverboat casino.)
It is a strange coincidence that the amount of money subsidized by Elgin for the condo project is about the same amount needed to restore the Crocker. As we are talking, in part, of my tax money I suggest the money be spent to have a building that is open to the public, serves a city-wide purpose, and shows lots of class. Is there any doubt as to which idea I am suggesting?