Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse

1826 Third Avenue,
Rock Island, IL 61201

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Circa 21 (Fort theatre)

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The Fort Theatre, also known as the Fort Armstrong Theatre, is another classic theater that started off with silent pictures/vaudeville and then switched exclusively to movies. It opened on January 19, 1921 with 1,800 seats.

The theater was decorated with a Western theme that was in keeping with its pioneer past, including teepee chandeliers.

In the late-1970’s, Dennis Hitchcock purchased the theatre, terraced the main floor, installed tables, and renamed it the ‘Circa 21 Dinner Playhouse’. Mr. Hitchcock otherwise left the theater’s color and style as they were.

While the main floor has a small entrance and lobby, there is a large lounge on the 2nd floor.

Contributed by Mike Geater

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

MikeGeater on October 8, 2001 at 3:54 pm

The Fort is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on October 30, 2004 at 5:09 pm

Opened in 1921, the Fort Armstrong Theater was designed by architect Benjimin Horn of the Cervin & Horn practice, associate architect was W.T. Braun. The architectural style is Native Indian and it had a seating capacity of 1623.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on January 13, 2007 at 3:50 pm

Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980

Fort Armstrong Theatre (added 1980 – Building – #80001407)
Also known as Fort Theatre
1826 3rd Ave., Rock Island
Historic Significance: Event, Architecture/Engineering
Architect, builder, or engineer: Cervin & Horn
Architectural Style: No Style Listed
Area of Significance: Architecture, Entertainment/Recreation
Period of Significance: 1900-1924
Owner: Private
Historic Function: Recreation And Culture
Historic Sub-function: Theater
Current Function: Recreation And Culture
Current Sub-function: Theater

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on January 30, 2007 at 5:52 am

Here are some recent photos of the Circa ‘21 Dinner Playhouse. Click each photo to expand it.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on September 8, 2007 at 6:55 pm

A Bennett theater organ was installed in the Fort Armstrong Theater in 1921.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on January 3, 2008 at 3:50 pm

This is a circa 1937 postcard picture of the Fort Theater.

TomBarrister on September 8, 2011 at 2:27 pm

I have some memories of this place. This was THE main theater in the Quad Cities. It was strictly first-run. It also had a hotel, which was built a few years after the theater. The Showcase Cinemas in Milan relegated the Fort to lesser status. Had it not been for David Hitchcock, it probably wouldn’t exist today. He turned it into Circa 21 Dinner Playhouse in 1976. The hotel is now a senior citizen apartment building.

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