Liberty Theater

1333 Walnut Street,
Murphysboro, IL 62966

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Liberty Theater

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The Tilford Theater, later renamed Liberty Theater, was continously operated as a motion picture theater from 1913 until 1998, by the Marlow Brothers (circa 1918 to 1967) and then by Kerasotes Theaters (1968 to 1998).

The small theater’s huge wall-to-wall, 32' CinemaScope screen provided a quasi-IMAX experience long befiore the IMAX process was introduced.

The Liberty Theater is now frequently used as a community arts center featuring concerts, stage shows and an occasional motion picture.

The theater has a new marquee and the stage area — never intended for more than a motion picture screen and its accompanying speakers — has been enlarged.

Contributed by Michael Ellis

Recent comments (view all 29 comments)

bodkin6071
bodkin6071 on April 2, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Speaking of sound systems, what sound was the films presented in while under Kerasotes ownership? The one time I saw a movie there (in 1992), there were no surround speakers to be seen on the walls, and I can’t even remember if it was two-channel stereo, with the speakers behind the screen, or regular monaural sound. For the life of me I can’t remenber, that was almost 20 years ago.

michaele
michaele on April 2, 2011 at 5:06 pm

The Liberty had a single channel, optical sound system under Kerasotes ownership. I don’t know what type of sound system is used at the Liberty today.

I’m not aware of any motion picture sound system that reproduces only two channels. “Fantasound” which was used in only a handful of theaters for the film “Fantasia” (1940) was a four-channel optical system on a separate 35mm reel; Cinerama (1952) employed a seven-channel magnetic system on a separate reel; CinemaScope (1953) used a four-channel magnetic sound-on-film system; Dolby Stereo (1975) employed a four-channel optical sound-on-film system matrixed into two tracks; and Dolby Digital and DTS employs a sound-on-film digital system.

Most every commercial theater uses an acoustically transparent material for a screen surface so loudspeakers can be placed directly behind the screen.

bodkin6071
bodkin6071 on April 4, 2011 at 9:15 pm

Yep I figured it would have mono sound, it being an old theater (and a dollar house for 20+years as well). Thanks for clearing that up. Now one other thing about the Liberty has been bugging me for the past 10 years… did they run films on platters or reels? Considering it was chain operated, I would be leaning towards platters.

michaele
michaele on April 5, 2011 at 12:36 am

I suspect Kerasotes installed a platter to reduce operating costs. Previously, it was a two-projector, change-over booth.

bodkin6071
bodkin6071 on April 9, 2011 at 11:37 pm

Here’s a recent picture of the interior, taken during the Big Muddy Film Festival in 2010:
View link

bodkin6071
bodkin6071 on April 9, 2011 at 11:45 pm

And here’s another picture I had stowed away on Photobucket, looking towards the back. Notice the projection booth now houses the spotlights. I never remember the Liberty having the burgundy trim, it was white all around, and the curtain was a fugly brown color.

bodkin6071
bodkin6071 on July 29, 2011 at 9:50 pm

A fairly recent Murphysboro American article on the Liberty. There are some exterior and interior pictures from 1950. Notice the interior looks completely different than it currently appears. The reason is the theater suffered a major fire in 1954 and reopened the following year, hence the remodel.

http://www.murphysboroamerican.com/entertainment/x1797084383/James-Marlow-The-Impresario-of-Murphysboro

stormdog
stormdog on August 12, 2013 at 1:04 am

I shot a few photos of the Liberty Theater when I passed through Murphysboro last summer. Here’s a link to the first one of the set. The others are there on my Flickr photostream as well.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/stormdog42/9492871186/

stormdog
stormdog on August 12, 2013 at 2:28 am

Thanks very much! The Liberty is a hard one to shoot, with the jet blacks and the bright whites together!

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