Rialto Square Theatre

102 N. Chicago Street,
Joliet, IL 60432

Unfavorite 25 people favorited this theater

Showing 1 - 25 of 31 comments

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).

Texas2step on December 14, 2016 at 3:37 pm

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

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


DavidZornig on February 18, 2015 at 7:36 am

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


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.

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.

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.

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:

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 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.

crazylady888 on July 21, 2006 at 3:40 pm

Wow, I was at the Rialto a few months ago to watch “Dora the Explorer” with my 4-year-old, and thought the theater was beautiful then! After looking at the old photographs, I wish I had been around to see the theater before it was restored. (We only moved to Joliet 5 years ago.) Thank you all for the pictures!

Broan on April 14, 2006 at 4:53 am

Whoops. Try again: here is another exterior from UMinn, and here is another

Broan on April 14, 2006 at 4:49 am

[url=http://snuffy.lib.umn.edu/image/srch/bin/Dispatcher?mode=600&id=atc3615c]Here[/ur;] is another exterior from UMinn

JimRankin on September 25, 2005 at 2:40 am

It should be noted that the photos that ‘lostmemory’ referrs to are Post-restoration, and therefore the lobby textiles (draperies, tapestries, gonfalons, etc.) were not replaced. The auditorium photo is also post-restoration and shows the new House Curtain and the Grande Drape designed and built by the now-defunct Mid-West Scenic and Stage Equipment Co. in Milwaukee. Those golden festoons upon the top of the Grand Drape are not the embroidered or padded passementerie (trapunto) that the originals would have been, but are actually hollow, vacuum formed plastic, gilded to resemble the originals and to avoid today’s high cost of hand fabrication. The ersatz gloss of plastic can still be discerned, however, from the balcony rail. Still, at least they made an attempt here to return some of the glory of the originals, and the theatre is still with us.

JimRankin on April 6, 2005 at 7:09 am

The WARNER in Milwaukee and its kissing cousin you mention in Erie PA, were both opened in May of 1931, and the PARAMOUNT in Aurora was a splendid example of R&R’s ability to merge delicate French rococco influences with their Art Deco in a warm and wonderful way. Many architects made Deco hard and cold, and thereby lost its appeal in the setting of a theatre that is supposed to be warm and inviting. I have not seen any of R&R’s court houses or other public buildings done in Art Deco, but I wonder if they were somehow able to continue the warmth in such venues. The reason R&R used “traditional styles, usually French in origin” is because that was their ‘signature’ style! Any survey of their theatres will reveal their trademark signature of the stylized sunburst of King Louis XIVth, the Sun King. They did work in other styles such as Spanish in the case of the Chicago UPTOWN, but they clearly prefered French — and that is what their clients wanted too! After the death of the principals, the firm did move into the so-called International Style in such as the FISHER remodeling in Detroit, but they still maintained their signature opulent, yet light touch characteristic of the French influence. I am happy they did.

Scott on April 6, 2005 at 6:24 am

Jim – I agree with your opinion of the Warner in Milwaukee. I had forgotten about that one. And the same could be said for the Paramount in Aurora, IL and the Warner in Erie, PA, both from 1931. They did get creative with their use of art deco. Though Rapp & Rapp were trailblazers in the teens and early 1920s, they became a little predictable in the late 20’s when they were still using traditional styles, usually French in origin. But what they did they did well. They definitely became more creative in the early 1930s until the depression took hold.

JimRankin on April 5, 2005 at 11:33 am

Even though the RIALTO SQUARE is not my favorite R&R work, the fact remains that it is a wonderful and beautiful palace, and I certainly hope it long endures. I especially like the illuminated ‘grape clusters’ ‘fountain’ in the rotunda. That rotunda may have inspired Ahlschlager for it is certainly grand. I only wish the equally grand original drperies could have been reporduced for it, since the originals in photos are wonderfully done. It was the Milwaukee firm of the then Mid-West Scenic Co. which made the replacement decorative draperies, but I am not entirely pleased with their vacuum-formed plastic gilded to imitate the appliqued and embroidered pendants on the originals. Their achievement is innovative, and it is a lot better than the plain panels so often seen today —if they replace the draperies at all. Still, I feel that plastic is out of place in such forms and venues. As to R&R not being innovative in the late 20s, it is too bad that I cannot post on this site the opening day photos of their WARNER here in Milaukee (now called the GRAND). This was the finest of their medium scale works, if I may be forgiven some local bias.

Scott on April 5, 2005 at 8:02 am

Jim, in my view R&R deserve more acclaim for their Rialto Square effort. I’d have to look at the exact timeline, but I believe the Rialto Square predated the Belmont in Chicago (barely) and certainly the legendary Roxy in NY. Based on that assumption, the lobby rotunda of the Rialto Square appears to have been the basis for Aschlager’s Belmont and Roxy designs. There is certainly a strong similarity between the floorplans of the Rialto Square and Roxy. Regardless, the Rialto Square, particularly the rotunda, is a spectacular space. The rest of the building, while certainly grand, is for the most part boiler-plate R&R, and not overly imaginative. By the late 1920s, R&R weren’t doing a whole lot of innovating.

JimRankin on April 4, 2005 at 11:10 am

Yes, Scott, the lobbies are entirely different, but I still maintain that the auditoriums are more than casually similar; of course, you are entitled to your opinion. Frankly, I don’t consider either of them to be the acme of R&R’s works, but then that is just my opinion, a matter of taste, and as the old saying goes: there is no accounting for taste.

Scott on April 4, 2005 at 9:50 am

Jim – you consider the Buffalo Theatre to be a near duplicate of the Rialto Square? You lost me on that one. Don’t they have completely different lobby designs? Is it the auditoriums you consider similar? Even those look pretty different to me. I agree with NEO that the auditoriums of the Rialto Square and the Michigan in Detroit are similar. The Buffalo and Rialto Square are both great theatres, but I don’t see a lot of similarities between them. Just my opinion.

JimRankin on November 28, 2004 at 6:45 am

Architects Rapp & Rapp of nearby Chicago repeated many of the same ornamental techniquews in their theatres, so similarity in some respects is to be expected among their theatres, but the closest relative to the RIALTO is its near duplicate in Buffalo, NY, the BUFFALO theatre, which is also on this site.

sdoerr on November 27, 2004 at 10:50 pm

The interior reminds me of the Michigan Theatre in Detroit.

JimRankin on May 22, 2004 at 6:02 am

The RIALTO has a number of claims to fame, but it is the more unusual elements that remain in my memory, and while I bemoan the loss of the luxurious draperies (later somewhat replaced by lesser creations done by Mid-West Scenic in Milwaukee), it is that wonderful ‘fountain’ in stained glass forms centered in the rotunda lobby since opening day that is most memorable. Here a four foot high octagon of metal grillework upon a marble base rises to a bowl of glass fruits which are illuminated from below. The grilles are backed with sheets of stained glass and illuminated from within to silhouette the grillework. It is artistic touches such as this which lend grace to a theatre and distinguish it from all the others with only the basic features. Another theatre that employs such ornaments is the CORONADO in Rockford, Ill, which features ‘vases’ of stained glass flowers in niches in the sidewalls under the balcony to this day. Using flame shaped bulbs to illuminate them, these decorations also lend the more artistic air so little found in smaller scale in theatres; we all appreciate the large scale effects, but a good planner balances the theme by means of attention to ornaments on both ends of the size scale. One might also recall similar ornaments in the form of the dioramas of Chicago cityscapes that once graced the niches in the walls of Chicago’s long-lost SOUTHTOWN (preserved at the Theatre Historical Soc. www.HistoricTheatres.org ), but people can increase the level of interest by using smaller ‘jewels’ to highlight the lobbies, as was done with antique figural lamps upon an imported mahogany back bar in the PABST in Milwaukee, for example.