Teatro del Lago

1515 Sheridan Road,
Wilmette, IL 60091

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Lobby Card from 1933

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Teatro del Lago, opened in 1927, as part of the Spanish Court retail complex along Sheridan Road in what was then known as “No Man’s Land”, a triangular area between the North Shore suburbs of Wilmette and Kenilworth. (The area was finally annexed by Wilmette after much debate in 1942).

Both the theater and surrounding structures of the Spanish Court were built in Spanish Colonial style, including red tile roofs and buff stucco facades.

The Teatro was closed in September 1965 and was demolished in early 1966. A Jewel Food Store built on part of the site. The shopping center was remodeled and renamed the Plaza del Lago in 1967.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 48 comments)

Broan
Broan on May 28, 2006 at 7:31 am

Architect was Edwin H. Clark.

Broan
Broan on January 4, 2007 at 3:43 pm

Some tidbits from the Tribune archives….
Ann-Margret apparently had her professional singing debut here, in a Radio broadcast.

The article marking the theater’s next-day closure printed September 9, 1965 notes that in addition to Hudson and Ann-Margret, former Senator Charles H. Percy served as an usher. English music hall star Gracie Fields also performed there in war bond drives. The article also claims that Meyers built some 22 theaters in Chicagoland, though his name is scarcely mentioned elsewhere. This must be in reference to the fact that he was director of Allied Theaters of Illinois, a syndicate of independent theaters.

A 1962 article claims, “Meyers had traveled to Paris in 1926 to meet with Claude Neon, an inventor. Neon explained the principles of neon lighting. Meyers arranged for the inventor to create the first neon theater sign for the proposed moving picture theater which would be built fronting Lake Michigan between Wilmette and Kenilworth.” It also identifies Spanish Court as one of the first shopping centers in America (along with Market Square in Lake Forest). It further states that in 1925 Meyers hired the young Vincente Minelli to design and decorate the theater, and that Meyers also intoduced a ‘first’ of special concert programs in the 1940s featuring the likes of Marlo Lanza, Rise Stevens, and Madame Shuman-Heink to the stage. Meyers was still further credited with starting the first Cub Scout pack in America, the Del Lago Cubs, in 1927.

MaryVallelonga
MaryVallelonga on September 14, 2007 at 10:19 pm

Have enjoyed reading all your posts….even though I did not discover you until waaaaaay after the fact. I too grew up in Wilmette. I am the third oldest of nine. All of your stories brought me back to a time that I still cherish so many years later. I lived in Wilmette in the late 1940’s until 1969. We lived at 901 Linden and then 830 Oakwood Avenue. I am hoping to find a picture of the Teatro del Lago. Any suggestions??? I remember Leo also. Did not know his last name. I really appreciated hearing his story. Can’t go past 4th and Linden without remembering him even so many years later. Hope all of you will continue to share your memories with all of us. Very cool! Mary
posted by Mary Burback Vallelonga on Sep 15, 2007 at 1:16am

alcfetz
alcfetz on September 15, 2007 at 9:56 am

Mary, I would be happy to share 2 pictures of the Teatro Del Lago with you. One I took of the ticket taker at his post when I worked there in 1960. Can’t remember his name. I think he worked there forever. Send me your email address at and I will foreward them to you.

pleary
pleary on July 10, 2008 at 9:40 am

As curator of the Wilmette Historical Museum, I’m so glad to have all of these wonderful memories recorded here; I’ve learned a lot from them, and have printed them out to add to our reference files. If anyone has photos or other memorabilia about the Teatro, or for that matter about Wilmette, we’d love to hear from you. Our website is at http://www.wilmettehistory.org) Incidentally, we recently learned that the Teatro’s old Kimball organ was rescued and is now in the hands of a collector who is restoring it.

One small correction to the info in the heading: the Teatro opened in the spring of 1927, not 1926, and closed on September 10, 1965. It was torn down early in 1966.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on November 5, 2008 at 4:58 pm

From a Chicago Tribune article dated 11/1/64:

The Teatro theater in Wilmette will be razed in February, said its new owner Plato Foufas.

Johnmcd
Johnmcd on June 26, 2010 at 12:46 pm

If anyone care to see anuy photos of the Teatro, I short a number in the late 50 and early 60s, inlcuding Stan Pratt, Sam Meyers, and the lonel;y painting of Rock Hudson hanging in the attic. Contact me at:

dsteinschneider
dsteinschneider on October 21, 2010 at 6:10 pm

I have found memories of listening to 45’s in the booths at Paul’s Record Shop. I was only 10 when we moved from Robsart Road which was across the street (closed off at 10th street). The Teatro was an unforgetable structure. I agree with other poster genky that the area was a paradise for kids. I remember riding our bikes at age 8, 9 and 10 all over town. We moved east in 1965 so I wasn’t there for it’s demolition.

jenkyt
jenkyt on November 13, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Just posted a new photo for this theater of a lobby card from 1933. Not sure what to do with it so I posted it here.

pswiderski
pswiderski on January 6, 2013 at 1:54 pm

I am a big fan of the the theatre pipe organ. The Teatro Kimball organ was the first pipe organ I ever saw “in the flesh.” I have fond memories of listening and seeing the organ while my brother and a few others played it. It wasn’t a fancy organ, but there is always a special place in one’s heart for the first. I believe that Jim Walgreen removed the organ. I had recently seen pictures of it in the home of the owner at the time, which seemed like somewhere in the upper mid west. It was for sale at the time, but I don’t know what happened to it since then.

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