Raue Center for the Arts

26 N. Williams Street,
Crystal Lake, IL 60014

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EL TOVAR Theatre; Crystal Lake, Illinois.

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Opened in 1929 as the El Tovar Theatre, this theater was a welcome addition to northern Illinois as a movie and vaudeville theater.

The interior, complete with dressing rooms and an orchestra pit, was designed in the Mission style and a spectacular pipe organ occupied its own loft close to the stage.

The El Tovar Theatre reopened in 2001 as the Raue Center for the Arts. The renovation included expanding the stage and completely re-doing the stage house. The Mission style decorations have been retained.

Contributed by Dave Wiegers

Recent comments (view all 15 comments)

Broan
Broan on December 7, 2005 at 11:51 am

Also, the Crystal Lake historical society notes that it was also named the Lake at one point and includes more info at View link

gatormak
gatormak on December 8, 2005 at 4:16 am

I think it was called the Lake in the 1950’s and 1960’s during a span when it only showed movies. Sometime in the 1970’s Rhyne Management bought the building and named it Showplace 8, which was a sister theater to the old Showplace 1-7 on Rte 14 near Rte 31.

I have an employee pay logbook from the 1950’s that I took out of one of the basements while I worked there in the mid-90’s. I also have part of the marquee that was hung out front “Downtown Showplace” in white and black letters, which was the incarnation before the massive renovation.

I was in the building this year and went up into the control room above the balcony. The original movie projector and film platters were still up there and functional, so perhaps they are still considering movies from time to time.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on May 16, 2008 at 8:08 am

And the correct pronunciation of “Raue” is?

jwballer
jwballer on March 30, 2010 at 1:52 pm

A 2/4 Wurlitzer was installed in the theatre in 1929.

jwballer
jwballer on April 26, 2010 at 6:04 pm

Here is a recent close up.
View link

jwballer
jwballer on February 8, 2011 at 7:01 pm

What happened to the organ? Where is it?

BobFurmanek
BobFurmanek on February 15, 2011 at 10:47 am

In the early 1950’s, the organ from this theater was purchased by Leon Berry and installed in his basement. One of the very first stereo album releases was “Leon Berry at the Giant Wurlitzer Pipe Organ, volume 3” released March 31, 1958 on Audio Fidelity records – AFSD, 5844.

jmins
jmins on March 18, 2014 at 1:00 pm

I am a volunteer with the Raue Center and working on the theatre’s history. If anyone is willing to share photos, stories, etc., please let me know. And in reply to an old post by Warren Harris asking about the pronunciation – the name rhymes with “wow”

Bruce C.
Bruce C. on March 18, 2014 at 1:49 pm

JMINS, I recommend calling the Theatre Historical Society in Elmhurst. They should have information on the El Tovar/Raue Center.

jmins
jmins on March 18, 2014 at 7:17 pm

Thankss, Bruce C. Actually gave their group a tour and got some info from them. Just looked like some of the people on here had personal memories/info they might want to share.

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