Harvey Theatre

15408 Center Avenue,
Harvey, IL 60426

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Harvey Theatre 1968

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Harvey Theatre is shown as being in operation in the 1945 Film Daily Yearbook with seating for 911. It was operated by a subsidiary of Paramount Pictures. The theater, which was located on Center Avenue at 154th Street, has been demolished.

Any further information on the Harvey would be appreciated.

Contributed by Bryan

Recent comments (view all 21 comments)

Dawn on January 27, 2011 at 1:04 am

Weird, my parents grew up in Harvey and have never mentioned this. They did mention the ABC drive-in, which was on 147th st (and oddly not on this site).

JerryFB on February 2, 2011 at 4:05 pm

I worked at the Harvey Theatre from 1953 thru 1961 as an usher and later as the assistant manager. The manager of the theatre at that time was Walter Grometer. Mr. Grometer had been transferred to the Harvey from the Princess Theatre in Joliet, in 1937, where he was the manager there. Before that he had been the assistant manager of the Rialto Theatre in Joliet; Roy Rogan was the manager of the Rialto at thaat time. Mr. Rogan was later a District Manager for Publix Great States Theatres. His district was very large; it included Harvey, Chicago Heights, Aurora, Elgin, Rockford, Waukegan and Blue Island. Mr. Rogan was originally from Aurora and in the theatre business there. He moved to Joliet and had a major ownership in the Orpheium Theatre in Joliet. The Ruben Brothers decided to build the Rialto Theatre in Joliet and asked Mr. Rogan to manage it. The assistant manager at the Harvey Theatre when I started there was Helen Budwash. She was the only female manager/assistant manager in the theatre chain. She started work at the Harvey Theatre in 1923 as a cashier. She also, at the same time, worked at the Garden Theatre (it would be interesting if anybody has any history on the Garden Theatre) across the street from the Harvey Theatre. The Garden Theatre burned down sometime in the late twenties. It was never rebuilt or reopened. It sat and was still sitting as a burned out shell when I started at the Harvey in 1953. Helen Budwash spoke of it many times to me. She said it was nothing to compare with the Harvey Theatre. Helen was a piece of history in Harvey, Illinois. She was a Charter Member, along with Amelia Earhart, of the Ladies (aviatrix) Flying Club known as the 99s. Helen flew the first airmail out of the Southside of Chicago into Chicago I have a lot of her memorabilia in my possession. Lillian Edwards (married to Gus Edwards the big show producer from Broadway) played the organ at the Garden Theatre. She happened to live down the street from me in Harvey, Illinois, when I was kid growing up. She spoke many times of her playing the organ at the Garden. The Harvey Theatre had some remodeling done in 1940. With the remodeling the seating capacity was reduced from 911 to 876. I know that number is exact because I did the books at the theatre and that number was always reported on the manager’s weekly report. That remodeling also included moving the public washrooms from the lobby area to the basement below the lobby, which enabled one washroom to become the manager’s office and the other the ushers' room. A concession stand was placed between the two entrances to the auditorium. The lobbies of the Harvey Theatre were remodeled in 1954 and much of the original character was destroyed. There was a lot of marble, decorative plaster work, and Chrystal light fixtures removed and dumped. I have in my possession a “wedding cake” style chandelier that hung in the inter-lobby. It was scheduled to be tossed away and I managed to salvage it with permission from Mr. Grometer. The auditorium of the theatre was a “shoe box” style. It had a beautiful rectangular shaped prosecenium, an orchestra pit, wings and flies, as well as foot and over head lights on the stage. There were dressing rooms back stage and in the basement, back stage. When I started work there, it was before cinemascope, we opened and closed the curtains before and after the show. There was a grand piano in the orchestra pit as well as on the stage. There were four beutiful, lighted coves in the ceiling of the auditorium. There were white, blue and orange bulbs in those coves. When the house lights were up the white lights were on. During the showing of movies the ornage lights were on. During Halloween midnight shows, the blue lights were on. That created quite an atmosphere. The the overhead, foot lights and cove lights were controled from a large electrical light board backstage in one of the wings. I helped to replace burned out bulbs many times in those lighted coves. We had to crawl on our stomachs on boards laid over the frame work for the plaster ceiling of the auditorium to replace burned out bulbs. The original owners of the Harvey Theatre were the Bastars' (of Bastar’s Jewelry Store on 154th Street) and Billy Voss (of Voss' Market). It was later purchased and operated by the Ruben Brothers. The manager’s name was Mr Hruby.
Paramount Publix Great States took the Harvey Theatre over during the depression. Publix asked all its employees during the depression to work two weeks without pay in order to gain capital; they did and it worked. Mr. Grometer told me the theatre and the land it sat on were owned by Fitzpatrick-McIlroy. I don’t know at what time this happened.

JerryFB on February 3, 2011 at 7:22 pm

The Era Theatre mentioned in Harvey was onetime owned by Gene Audtry
and Dr. Alexander, a prominent medical doctor in Harvey. It always showed third-run movies. My brothers and I, as kids, went there many times. One of the movies I can remember seeing there was “20,000 years B.C.” My twin brother and I sat thru the movie 3 times and I finally went home without him. My mother later went to the theatre to get him and bring him home. We lived only one city block from the Harvey Theatre, the Brandt Theatre and the Era Theatre. I can still remember the original ‘phone number for the Harvey Theatre, and that was 792; the Brandt Theatre was 535.

vetlib on April 2, 2011 at 4:32 pm

JerryFB would you please contact me at
I am related to Lillian Edwards.

LJ on January 5, 2013 at 1:38 pm

JerryFB, I was an usher at the Harvey Theater around 1958 thru 1959 my email address is

RiisPark on February 15, 2013 at 4:12 pm

Love the shots of the small but funky marquee. Too bad the theatre had to die but so did Harvey. I wish I could see photos of the interior.

carl3615 on September 13, 2013 at 6:01 pm

Just added two pictures of the Harvey Theatre. Will note Harvey had this, the Brandt, the Era (later New Era), Garden at 15411 Center (destroyed by fire on Dec. 27, 1929), and the American (opened in 1916) and next to the original city hall on 154th.

EricV on February 9, 2014 at 12:43 pm

The Harvey circa 1976 (when they showed movies like “Bingo Long,” “Sparkle,” “Five on the Black Hand Side,” “Black Belt Jones,” etc.) was run by a guy named Robert Taylor. He had worked for Oscar Brotman who owned a number of Chicagoland movie houses in the 60s/70s. The walls of the auditorium of the Harvey were flocked around this time. Taylor told me it was some sort of shredded material that was wetted and then sprayed all over everything. It looked pretty strange, almost like a layer of mold was covering the walls. You could still make out details of ornament on the walls under the dried foam. Taylor later ran the Village Art Theatre in Chicago from the late 70s to the 90s.

Thxpix on October 20, 2014 at 7:02 am

Jerry Corgnati, Tom Arden, and Robert Taylor purchased the theater in the mid 80s from Charles Cooper a Chicago businessman. We installed a new screen, flocked the walls and re-opened the theater. Tom Arden also opened the “Wooden Keg” convenience store on Halstead Street in Harvey. He was later killed in an auto accident. He bought out myself and Robert Taylor soon after it opened. At one point in time we operated the Glenwood, Harvey, Lyric, and Holiday in Park Forest. Building the River Oaks D-150 theater was my first project in the theater business in Chicago. I was also a member of the in-famous Local 110 projectionist union. Feel free to contact me by email. Thxpix@bellsouth,net

Jay Harvey
Jay Harvey on October 20, 2014 at 7:11 pm

How far was the Harvey Theatre from the Dixie Square Mall?

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