Alhambra Theatre

1073 N. Water Street,
Decatur, IL 62523

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The Alhambra was located on North Water Street, and built in 1914. It was nowhere near as ornate as other Decatur movie houses like the Avon, the Empress or the Lincoln, but every bit as popular as its larger and fancier cousins. It was located next door to one of the most popular dance halls in the city, the Illini Ballroom, where couples were entertained by big bands for decades.

The Alhambra could originally seat 1000 (later much reduced), all on the orchestra level. It did have a small stage for live performances, such as visits by celebrities like Red Skelton and Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy. It also hosted live children’s stage shows accompanying the onscreen entertainment during Saturday matinees.

Competition from television was a cause in the Alhambra’s gradual decline in attendance, and it was closed in late 1960. It was afterward torn down to make way for new businesses.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft
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