Rialto Square Theatre
102 N. Chicago Street,
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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.
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