Rialto Square Theatre

102 N. Chicago Street,
Joliet, IL 60432

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Rialto Square Theatre, Joliet, IL - auditorium

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 33 comments)

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).

local157 on June 23, 2018 at 12:43 pm

This “Jewel of Joliet” has one of the best original Barton Theatre Pipe Organs in the world.The Joliet Area Theatre Organ Enthusiasts maintain it in excellent condition.You can read more about it here:http://www.jatoe.org/organ.htm

TerryFamily on June 23, 2018 at 5:32 pm

Leo Terry Sr was the 1st organist that open the Rialto in Joliet and Leo has his oldest great great grandson who lives in Joliet’s wideside. His name is Don Terry, Don is my son; who may not have the talent Leo had with the keyboard but has a bass baritone tenor voice that makes you feel with harmony

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