Rialto Square Theatre
102 N. Chicago Street,
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Built for the Rubens Brothers Theatre Company in 1926, the prestigious Chicago-based firm of Rapp & Rapp, known for its Chicago palaces like the Uptown and Chicago Theatres, was hired to design the largest and most elegant vaudeville theater built in Illinois outside Chicago at the time.
It was built in the French Renaissance style, but also contains elements of the neoclassical 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 is still famed for its great Barton Grande Organ, a 1927 original cared for by the Joliet Area Theatre Organ Enthusiasts.
Though the Rialto Square closed as a movie theater in the mid-1970s, 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.
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