230 Market Street,
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Previously operated by: Balaban & Katz Corp.
Architects: Lucas Pfeiffenberger
Firms: L. Pfeiffenberger & Sons
The Grand Theatre opened December 4, 1920, and was the largest theatre in Alton at the time, seating around 1,400, though later, seating was reduced to a little over 1,000.
It cost $150,000 to build and was managed during most of the 1920’s by William Sauvage, who also ran a handful of other Alton movie houses, including the Hippodrome Theatre and Temple Theatre.
In 1954, CinemaScope was installed at the Grand Theatre.
The last movies shown at the Grand Theatre were a double-feature of “Heavy Traffic” and “The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat” in 1977. Afterwards, the theatre was “temporarily” closed, but the “temporary” closing has lasted until the present.
It does get some use during Halloween as a “haunted theatre” (Alton is reputedly one of the most haunted cities in Illinois) but plans to reuse the Grand Theatre for a performing arts center or movie house have not gotten beyond talk yet.
The Grand Theatre is the only classic movie house in Alton remaining mostly intact whereas the others which are still standing today have been repurposed for other uses and no longer resemble their former selves.
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