Crocker Theater

96 S. Grove Avenue,
Elgin, IL 60120

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LouRugani
LouRugani on March 27, 2018 at 6:03 pm

(Elgin Daily Herald, 1998) – CROCKER DEVELOPER HAVING SECOND THOUGHTS By Brad Hahn Daily Herald Staff Writer

Five months after unveiling his plan to transform Elgin’s Crocker Theater into a thriving downtown mecca, a Chicago-area developer is having second thoughts. Jeff Maher said he’s frustrated by the lack of progress in turning the abandoned landmark into a discount movie house. A tentative agreement to purchase the Crocker expires today, and the developer said he’s unsure if he’ll continue pursuing the building. “I don’t know if I’ll accept or not,” said Maher of an opportunity to extend the agreement. “I don’t know if anyone wants to play ball.“ Specifically, Maher is looking for a response to a preliminary plan he submitted to the Elgin Chamber of Commerce months ago. In that proposal, the developer said it would cost between $2 million and $2.4 million to rehabilitate the gutted auditorium. But to be successful, Maher said, he needed the city’s help. Exactly how much Elgin would have to pitch in was not specified. That detail was left out on purpose, said the developer, who made a success of a similar project in Kenosha, Wis. “Nothing was engraved in stone for price,” he said. “I wanted to see what they’re willing to do and go from there.” But the omission has caused the project to stall, said Jim McConoughey, vice president for economic development at the chamber. After a series of meetings with Maher, McConoughey reviewed the preliminary report and asked for more specifics. Serving as a conduit between developers and the government, McConoughey said he wants to make sure any plan submitted is complete and practical. “A project scope has to come from the developer with details of what his project would be and what the city’s role would be,” McConoughey said. Underlying the discussion is Maher’s tentative pledge to buy the Crocker from current owner Dominic Buttita for $800,000. Some officials at city hall believe the price is too high, given Buttita paid about half that amount for the building two years ago. They’re wary of taxpayer money being used for the owner to make a profit. But Buttita said improvements to the building — including a new roof — bring his investment to more than $1 million. “I think they think I’m making money on this deal and I’m not — I’m going to be losing money,” he said. If Maher can work out financing, a discount movie theater is in line with the city’s plan for downtown, McConoughey said. The question now — as it was months ago — is whether the city and developer can reach a consensus. “I think it would be something people would go to,” McConoughey said. “It would bring folks downtown that historically have not gone downtown.”

DAL
DAL on April 2, 2013 at 8:43 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.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on June 18, 2010 at 3:59 pm

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

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on June 18, 2010 at 12:59 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 12:15 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!

elginite
elginite on April 30, 2008 at 2:13 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.

uptownjen
uptownjen on April 30, 2008 at 10:27 am

just found this, on a related note:
View link

uptownjen
uptownjen on April 30, 2008 at 10:24 am

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.

BrendanM
BrendanM on November 19, 2007 at 4:35 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/

balabanandkatz
balabanandkatz on March 19, 2007 at 3:13 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 3:13 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 3:12 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

RiisPark99
RiisPark99 on March 15, 2007 at 1:03 pm

You can tell a B&K theatre by the marquee and the color scheme on it.

BrendanM
BrendanM on March 15, 2007 at 12:23 pm

The Crocker mainly showed first-run movies and the seating capacity was 1600, rather than 1347. For most of the Crocker Theater’s years, it was operated by Balaban & Katz chain.

BrendanM
BrendanM on December 27, 2006 at 9:34 pm

This was the last theater built in Elgin until the Marcus Fox Theatre opened more than 70 years later.

elginite
elginite on April 1, 2006 at 9:42 am

The best use for the Crocker would have been as an indie rock music venue. Other rock “theaters” like Clearwater in Dundee and Metro in Chicago don’t have seats, because seats get in the way. If you look at this way, much of the work had already been done on the Crocker, since the interior was gutted long ago. It wouldn’t have required much money to make it suitable for rock concerts. The suburbs are especially in need of all-ages venues. It would have given the kids something to do and brought life to the downtown. For updates see: The Elginite blog

RiisPark99
RiisPark99 on January 29, 2006 at 11:25 am

The Elgin city fathers are so near sighted. Look at downtown Elgin—it’s a ghost town. What is needed are good resturants and a movie theatre. Now none exist in Elgin. Elgin never recovered from the watch company closing down and the casino hasn’t brought in vistors who would stay and shop in the downtown area.

Patsy
Patsy on August 18, 2005 at 5:48 pm

The terms urban renewal or redevelopment are what caused the demolition of the Crocker Theatre in Elgin Illinois! So so sad!

Menutia
Menutia on June 8, 2005 at 11:37 pm

Here are 2 pics I took during one visit. One is a drawing of the “current” facade. The second was of a historical photo of the theatres early look.

View link

View link

Michael

Menutia
Menutia on June 8, 2005 at 11:24 pm

P.S. According to my notes and a check of the online database, the Crocker theatre had a Wurlitzer Style D (2 manual 6 rank) organ Opus 623 – installed on 3/30/1923.

Menutia
Menutia on June 8, 2005 at 11:18 pm

Yes,

It was gutted. I first saw it in the winter of 1992-1993. I was doing a research paper for school on the Chicago, Aurora, & Elgin RR which had a power station to the north of the Crocker theatre. The Railroad track was located just behind the Crocker and the Rialto theatres.

When I went to take some research pics of the railroad property, I was able to look into the front doors and see clear through to the back wall of the stage house. Even the lobby was ripped clean of all finishing’s, except for the staircase. There was also a small hole in the rear loading dock door in which you could see the stripped auditorium. I do have exterior shots from that trip,and subsequent visits, but I was never equipped to get shots of the dark interior.

I too will miss this one.

~Michael

TJacobs
TJacobs on June 6, 2005 at 4:32 pm

Removing the marquee exposed “Crocker Theater” enscribed in the front but it otherwise looked the same. I have an article in the local paper showing all the seats, stage, curtain, and even the projecting equipment and an organ. That was in the late 1980’s.
Several people made some effort to get it reopened then but nothing came of it. Since that time it, according to local sources, was gutted. I have no idea of any of the interrior was saved.

RIP. I’ll miss it.

Broan
Broan on June 6, 2005 at 3:41 pm

Also wondering what the facade looks like without the marquee… Was anything under it?

Broan
Broan on June 6, 2005 at 3:41 pm

What does the interior look like? Was it really gutted previously, and if so why?

TRAINPHOTOS
TRAINPHOTOS on June 1, 2005 at 7:58 pm

Just what we need, more condos! However, as I said in my previous post, I’m not sure if the Crocker would have succeeded as a cinema or as a performing arts venue. The relatively new Casino Theatre didn’t make it. And for performing arts, the Hemmens is nearby.

What might have been done? How ‘bout “adaptive re-use” in which historical elements including the marquee are retained? How 'bout a movie themed restaurant or cafe? Or a nice banquet hall as was done with a theatre in Quincy, IL?