Madison Theatre

107 NE Madison Avenue,
Peoria, IL 61602

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Madison Theatre

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Opened in 1920, for local businessman Dee Robinson, the Madison Theatre was designed by Frederic J. Klein. Klein also designed Rockford’s huge Coronado Theatre seven years later.

Designed with an Italian Renaissance exterior and Neo-Classical style interior, the Madison Theatre originally hosted both vaudeville acts and silent films, but switched to sound by the late 1920’s.

Robinson featured annual Christmas shows at the Madison for which children were admitted free of charge. After he died, the practice continued into the 50s.

The auditorium features a high domed ceiling with classical-inspired plasterwork decorating both the ceiling and side walls. The ceiling of the theater’s lobby is also domed, and its facade features extensive terra-cotta work, with a triple-arched window over the marquee.

In 1980, the Madison Theatre was named to the National Register of Historic Places. The last major movie palace built in Peoria, the stunningly restored Madison Theatre continued to draw crowds as a venue for rock concerts and other live acts untuil it closed in 2003. New owners have said they may restore the building, but by 2010, nothing has happened.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 38 comments)

Broan
Broan on July 4, 2012 at 4:09 pm

The NR doesn’t restrict anything. Only if it was a tax credit funded rehabilitation

Mark
Mark on July 13, 2012 at 4:30 pm

New facebook page dedicated to Peoria’s palaces: http://www.facebook.com/#!/PEORIASPICTUREPALACES

jackiskin
jackiskin on July 15, 2012 at 2:35 pm

Winchurch…. i broke into the madison theater around febuary of 1980. me and a friend snuck into the madison[ many times] via the fire escape in the ally that led to the closed balcony. the movie that was playing was star trek 1..but we just snuck in to watch the trailer for empire strikes back , the trek movie was poor. we did end up staying until everyone left after closing..got bags of popcorn..and oddly enough also broke into the palace that night..maybe we got the popcorn there..we were only 16 or so..it was fun..last movie we saw at madison was blade runner.

jackiskin
jackiskin on July 15, 2012 at 2:39 pm

i will add ..we actually only pulled the alley doors open they were not locked at either theater…the only time us poor kids ever snuck in free at the rialto we got caught in 5 minutes…we didnt do any damage to either theater as well…i signed the 1980 petition to save the palace..but to no avail..shame.. there are so many empty lots downtown that the towrs could of been built on instead. just here cause im trying to find a pic of the rialto with star wars on the marquee

JudithK
JudithK on July 15, 2012 at 2:45 pm

I’m surprised that neither theatre was kept secure. Looking forward to seeing photos of the Rialto as I never visited it. I agree with you about “Star Trek 1”; it was not a good film (“Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan” was much better).

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on August 27, 2012 at 8:03 am

Pictured in this 1938 trade journal: Boxoffice

Matt Lambros
Matt Lambros on January 9, 2013 at 7:52 am

I recently photographed the Madison Theater check out the post at After the Final Curtain

Mark
Mark on August 19, 2013 at 1:38 pm

Speaking on artisans who could properly restore the Madison to opening day (1921) condition: as of 2013 two firms with histories predating the golden age of movie palace’s still exsist today. 1. Conrad Schmitt of New Berlin, WI was founded in 1889 and has been an industry leader as first, a decorating company during the architectural boom of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century’s and second, as a leader in the restoration of many of those same properties decades later. Conrad Schmitt also has the most theater/auditorium retorations under their belt, numbering in the hundreds. Their history and portfolio can be found at conradschmitt.com. 2. Rambusch Studios, of New York, NY was founded in 1898 and has a long and venerable project/client list mirroring that of Conrad Schmitt. They can be found at rambusch.com.
Evergreene Architectural Arts also of New York, NY was founded in 1978 and quickly became a leader in the revitalizing of historic art and architecture. Evergreene is the first choice among several prominent historic preservationist architectural firms. They can be found at evergreene.com.

Mark
Mark on August 19, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Here’s a link to a great, eight minute video on Conrad Schmitt Studios. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39zxhmQJxUU

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