Crocker Theater

96 S. Grove Avenue,
Elgin, IL 60120

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Crocker Theater

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The Crocker Theater was built in 1923, and was the largest theater at the time in Elgin. It showed silent films, and had up to three vaudeville acts each day. A Wurlitzer organ once accompanied the films, as well as popular sing-alongs before and after features. Among the celebrities to grace the stage of the Crocker Theater in its early days were Admiral Richard Byrd, sharing his polar adventures, and Gene Autry, the cowboy star.

The theater began showing sound films in 1929, but by the mid-1970’s, the theater had become a venue for Spanish-language films. It closed its doors in 1981 and has remained shuttered since.

Several schemes for its future came and went, including reopening it as a movie theater, converting it into a nightclub, and giving it over to mixed retail and residential use.

Since the Crocker Theater was acquired by the city of Elgin in 2000, it had not been able to come up with a concrete decision on the future of the theater, which was entirely gutted inside by its previous owner. In June 2005, the city had the Crocker Theater razed to make way for a condominium development project.

The Crocker Theater was never overly ornate, but built in a simple, Neo-Classical style, with a terra cotta facade, partially hidden behind a 1950’s vintage marquee.

Contributed by Paul Salley

Recent comments (view all 41 comments)

balabanandkatz
balabanandkatz on March 19, 2007 at 5:13 pm

according to our records, as of October 1, 1949, the crocker was part of the B and k Chain. for a complete list of theatres operated by B and k go to www.balabandkatzfoundation.com

David Balaban
Balaban and katz Foundation

balabanandkatz
balabanandkatz on March 19, 2007 at 5:13 pm

according to our records, as of October 1, 1949, the crocker was part of the B and k Chain. for a complete list of theatres operated by B and k go to www.balabandkatzfoundation.com

David Balaban
Balaban and katz Foundation

BrendanM
BrendanM on November 19, 2007 at 6:35 pm

I don’t know where these number are coming from, but according to the book I have right beside me and the Elgin history web site, the correct seating capacity for the Crocker should be 1,600.

Proof can be found under “.4 Silver Screen and Crystal Sets” under chapter VII at this web site:

http://www.elginhistory.com/eaah/

uptownjen
uptownjen on April 30, 2008 at 12:24 pm

just found this photo here:

View link

again, the font on the front of the marquee greatly resembled that of the riviera here in uptown chicago. i always recognize this because of the modern “sharply cut” lettering. must have been a b&k thing. i would bet the riv and the crocker’s marquees were replaced during the same era.

uptownjen
uptownjen on April 30, 2008 at 12:27 pm

just found this, on a related note:
View link

elginite
elginite on April 30, 2008 at 4:13 pm

The marquee unfortunately wasn’t saved. I thought it looked great and it worked really well with the original building. The rest of the facade has, however, supposedly been put into storage by the city of Elgin.

The site of the Crocker Theater remains empty, and the state of the housing market implies it may stay empty for a long time.

If you’re interested in following developments pertaining to the Crocker site and how it’s redeveloped or Elgin news in general, you can grab a feed of my Elgin blog.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on June 18, 2010 at 2:15 pm

Photo two shows what looks like one-sheets in the poster frames,But nothing on the marquee.Did they just shut down and left the one sheets in or were they too lazy to put a title up.Strange!

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on June 18, 2010 at 2:59 pm

Acording to the header Mike this theatre closed in 1981,and the photos are from 1982 looks like they just left the one-sheets up instead of taking them home.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on June 18, 2010 at 5:59 pm

Man,why didn’t they take them.Bet someone got them.

DAL
DAL on April 2, 2013 at 10:43 am

The Crocker was a Plitt Theatre in the mid-70’s when I joined the company. I remember two things about the time I helped out covering shifts there: (1) the classic front was way more impressive than any of the interior, expecially the ugly auditorium, and (2) the guy my DM hired to run the place would take a short break to “go down the street” and come back reeking of alcohol.

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