Rialto Square Theatre

102 N. Chicago Street,
Joliet, IL 60432

Unfavorite 25 people favorited this theater

Rialto Square Theatre, Joliet, IL - auditorium

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Built for the Rubens Brothers Theatre Company and opened May 24, 1926 with Corrine Griffith in “Mille. Modiste”. The prestigious Chicago-based architectural firm of Rapp & Rapp, known for its Chicago palaces like the Uptown Theatre and Chicago Theatre, was hired to design the largest and most elegant vaudeville theatre built in Illinois outside Chicago at the time.

It was built in the French Renaissance style, but also contains elements of the Neo-Classical and Rococco styles. Besides its very luxurious decor, like the Rotunda modeled after Rome’s Pantheon or its stately Esplanade, or inner lobby, based on Versailles' Hall of Mirrors, the Rialto Square Theatre is still famed for its great Barton Grande Organ, a 1926 original opened by organist Leo Terry and today cared for by the Joliet Area Theatre Organ Enthusiasts.

Though the Rialto Square Theatre closed as a movie theatre in the mid-1970’s, it was rescued from impending demolition by a grass-roots campaign and restored to its former glory in 1980 and reopened the next year as a performing arts center.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 31 comments)

kencmcintyre on January 27, 2007 at 11:14 am

The Rialto closed briefly or was planning to close in 1951:

JOLIET â€"(AP)â€"The closing of Joliet’s Rialto theater, one of the most costly movie houses in downstate Illinois, was announced today. Roy Rogan, manager, told theater employees that the closing date will be June 9. The theater cost about $1,500,000 when it was built 25 years ago. Rogan did not state why the theater is closing.

cmgiulini on December 27, 2007 at 1:25 pm

Crain’s Chicago Business is reporting on a $5 million project to bring the Rialto Square even closer to its original luster.
View link

kencmcintyre on July 28, 2008 at 5:23 pm

Here is an undated photo from a plumbing company that did some work on the theater:

DavidZornig on April 9, 2009 at 6:24 pm

There is a book series called Images of America, featuring one book titled “Joliet” by author & Joliet native Marianne Wolf. I bought the book in 2006 at the Chicago Cultural Center.

Pages 113-115 are dedicated to Rubens Rialto Square.
There are four pictures with descriptions of the building, lobby, Barton Grande Theatre Pipe Organ, and stage.
The book is/was printed by Arcadia Publishing.

Allan on July 1, 2010 at 9:40 pm

I saw many movies in the Rialto. The sheer size and the magnificant decor made every visit an event. Portions of the film Stir of Echoes starring Kevin Bacon were filmed inside the Rialto.

Patsy on September 5, 2012 at 1:48 pm

I just learned about this beautiful theatre and that it in located in Joliet Illinois…home of the Drew Peterson trial.

DavidZornig on February 18, 2015 at 7:36 am

Obituary of Dorothy L. Mavrich. Copy & paste to view.


Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on August 29, 2016 at 7:59 am

Article: Joliet leaders weigh-in on Rialto’s future

The Herald-News, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016


Texas2step on December 14, 2016 at 3:37 pm

This one opened on May 24, 1926. Ad uploaded.

davidcoppock on December 22, 2016 at 6:52 am

There us a picture (postcard?) of the Rialto Square Theatre in the book Legendary Route 66 (page 135).

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment

Subscribe Want to be emailed when a new comment is posted about this theater?
Just login to your account and subscribe to this theater