Sterling Theater

402 Locust Street,
Sterling, IL 61081

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Sterling Theater

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Originally built in 1924 for vaudeville and stage acts (original architect unknown), this 1,200 seat theater was partially destroyed by fire on July 9, 1943. It was rebuilt in an Art Moderne style designed by architect John R. McLane and opened on September 28 1944 with 1,020 seats. One of the features of the rebuilt Sterling Theater was a lighted tower, which became a beacon for entertainment in downtown Sterling.

It was later twinned and was taken over by Classic cinemas in July 1997. The lighted tower was rebuilt and re-lit by Classic Cinemas during a 2000 renovation.

From October 2003 until 2004, the theater was part of the Sensible Cinemas chain, but since July 2004, it was under new independent ownership of 21st Cinemas, as a discount house. The Sterling Theater also featured special free shows as well as an independent film series.

The Sterling Theater was closed in 2008. It is planned to re-open in July 2013 as a brew & view movie theatre.

Contributed by Coral Carlson, Roger Anthony

Recent comments (view all 16 comments)

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on May 28, 2008 at 10:09 pm

This is a May of 1941 ad.

bloosoda on December 19, 2008 at 1:15 pm

Yes, this stylish venue IS for sale! Check out:

I will post a contact number for the owners, shortly!

bloosoda on December 29, 2008 at 7:32 pm

I understand this theatre has been successfully operated as a discount house but was closed in 2008 due to some management matters as well as some air conditioning problems. Those have been worked on and the owners plan to reopen the Sterling in early 2009. In the meantime, they are still offering the theatre FOR SALE. Contact Mark at 217-549-3000

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on August 25, 2009 at 11:05 pm

Here is a recent photo of the Sterling Theater.

jwballer on March 31, 2010 at 9:12 pm

The sterling is closed!

JackCoursey on January 2, 2011 at 7:25 pm

Photo from December, 2010 of the former Sterling Theatre. Looks to be intact with what appears to be a For Lease sign in its window.

Andy69 on May 20, 2013 at 10:27 pm

From, April 19th, 2013:

“STERLING – It’s official: The Sterling Theater will open July 3, its new operator said.

Skip Huston, who owns The Theater Management Group, said Thursday that he plans to open the brew and view – which means wine and beer with your movie, if you like – with “a brand new, exclusive film. A big, big movie for the summer.”

Huston had hoped to open in May, as it says on the theater marquee, but much work has yet to be done."

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