Rialto Square Theatre

102 N. Chicago Street,
Joliet, IL 60432

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Rialto Square Theatre, Joliet, IL - auditorium

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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.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 31 comments)

kencmcintyre
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
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.
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kencmcintyre
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:
http://tinyurl.com/6pblfs

DavidZornig
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.

Bruce C.
Bruce C. on August 4, 2009 at 6:01 am

Here are a couple of my pictures of the Rialto Square that I took this summer (on a rather rainy, dreary day):

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jwballer
jwballer on January 12, 2010 at 2:34 pm

Theatre appears at # 133 on the 150 places to visit in illinois
http://www.illinoisgreatplaces.com/

jwballer
jwballer on February 28, 2010 at 2:01 pm

A little bit of the rialto’s organ can be heard here
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9edgBuaCd0o

Allan
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
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.

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