Edens I & II Theaters

320 Skokie Boulevard,
Northbrook, IL 60062

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Edens Theater

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This futuristic-looking classic 60s-era movie house was a long-time landmark in suburban Northbrook, visible along the Edens Expressway (for which the theater was named) and Lake-Cook Road, both of which ran past the Edens. It was designed by the Chicago-based firm of Perkins and Will.

Built in 1963, and opening with “Divorce Italian Style”, the large Edens was inside a traditional movie theater, with a huge screen, complete with red curtains and a small stage area. The original color scheme was gold and off-white, with teak paneling.

However, the Edens' exterior was its real stunner, looking like something out of a 1950s sci-fi movie. It was called the largest “hyperbolic paraboloid” building ever constructed when it opened. The theater’s concrete roof curved sharply upwards on either end, rising dramatically skyward at each point. Its walls, of corrugated concrete, were broken up by long, undulating swaths of glass, along the entrance areas. The main lobby, which was sunken and reached by sets of stairs, featured then ultra-modern “living room” furniture and artwork.

In 1969, a slightly smaller (and far more ordinary-looking) second auditorium was built adjacent to the original theater. The theater was renamed the Edens I & II.

The once enormously popular Edens was shuttered by its last operator, Cineplex Odeon, in 1994, stating that the cost of refurbishing the aging twin was too prohibitive. The last two films on its marquee were “Time Cop” and “Milk Money”.

It was quickly snatched up by a developer, along with a nearby bowling alley and shops, and all were razed by the end of 1994. The Village Square of Northbrook shopping center now sits on the site of the Edens.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 49 comments)

Mark_L on October 18, 2011 at 2:49 pm

According to Michael Coate’s list of CINERAMA presentations in Chicago, the only CINERAMA screening at the Edens II was the 70mm re-release of THIS IS CINERAMA opening 6/13/1973 for a 7 week run.

billymac72 on November 2, 2011 at 4:10 pm

There is a fascinating little 5-part documentary up on YouTube with footage of the demolition. I was very surprised to see this! Amazing:


PS – I don’t know how to post a link here anymore. Anyone?

whtesoxfan56 on November 2, 2011 at 9:03 pm

This theater SO should’ve been saved, and not torn down. I do wonder if this theater had been inducted into the National Register of Historic Places, if it would’ve perhaps been saved?

Too bad there wasn’t a major campaign to save this theater from demolition, years ago. I remember this theater well(though never saw a movie, as it closed when I was 12), from my drives as a kid going up the Edens to the Chicago Botanic Garden.

mungojerry on May 13, 2012 at 5:22 pm

Had been to Edens I and II a number of times – including seeing the first Star Wars (Episode 4)movie. Wish it was still there.

DAL on May 14, 2012 at 10:25 am

Probably one of the strangest phone calls I ever received in 30+ years in the business was when the assistant manager of the Edens called me one sunny, windy March Sunday afternoon and told me that the fire department wouldn’t let us open Edens 1 because “the roof had come off.” Knowing the reinforced-concrete construction of that amazing roof, I knew this wasn’t possible. She couldn’t describe what she was seeing, so I drove the 30 miles to the theatre. When I arrived, I could only burst out laughing. The black tarpaper roof covering had peeled off like a giant rotten banana and was lying curled up off the edge and into the parking lot! It was several days later when the mess was cleaned up and we could reopen # 1.

rivest266 on June 23, 2012 at 12:57 pm

I uploaded its March 8th, 1963 grand opening ad in the photo section for this cinema.

orsonwellescinema on October 4, 2012 at 9:06 pm

Drove by it nearly every weekday on my way to school in the 80s. Saw LOGAN’S RUN, ANNIE HALL and Bakshi’s LORD OF THE RINGS here. Fascinating theater. I recall feeling it was kind of a foreboding place. Neat though. REALLY neat. Although, each time I was there it was a sea of empty seats. I came to expect that. Edens II, however, that’s where the big shows were … STAR WARS (first run in 70mm), RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, LION IN WINTER, EMPIRE OF THE SUN, SUPERMAN – which was so packed we had to sit in the aisle.

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on October 4, 2012 at 11:08 pm

STAR WARS (1977) never played in 70mm when it was showing there in 1977.

billymac72 on October 5, 2012 at 10:11 am

True, but it did have “stereophonic sound!” The makers of “Star Wars” were, of course, huge innovators in that field.

Some of my fondest memories were seeing “Star Wars” here (and I also saw it at Mt. Prospect General Cinemas, Golf Mill on re-release, and Palwaukee….probably on re-re-release!) and “Superman: The Movie.” One of the theaters, I think Edens II, had these carpeted partitions in the front of the first row. I remember sitting on the floor in front of those things to watch some movies.

orsonwellescinema on October 7, 2012 at 4:18 pm

re: 70mm, I stand corrected. Sure did seem like it. Edens II was cavernous.

I remember seeing that “coming to your galaxy this summer” poster in the foyer.

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