Des Plaines Theater

1476 Miner Street,
Des Plaines, IL 60016

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The Des Plaines Theater was opened as a vaudeville/movies house on August 9, 1925 with Adolphe Menjou in “Are Parents People” plus five acts of vaudeville on the stage. Built for the Polka Brothers circuit, the theater was designed by architect William B. Betts of neighboring Park Ridge, who also designed the Glen Theatre (now the Glen Art Theatre) in west suburban Glen Ellyn among other theaters. The Spanish Moorish style foyer led into a Spanish Renaissance style auditorium, which originally seated 1,018 patrons and had a large stage and orchestra pit. The theatre was equipped with a 3 manual Geneva theatre organ which was installed in December 1925, and removed from the theatre in August 1934. The theater’s exterior was in an Art Deco style, complete with bright, multi-colored terra cotta on the facade.

In 1935, members of the Balaban family (of the Balaban & Katz chain fame) purchased the Des Plaines Theater, and it became primarily a first-run movie house. That same year, the theater was remodeled by the firm of Pereira & Pereira, adding some Art Deco style touches, especially to the marquee. In 1982, a fire nearly destroyed the theater, but it was reopened a couple years later as a twin, with each auditorium seating about 275 patrons and screening second-run films.

The Des Plaines received a much-needed renovation in 1998, and showed primarily first-run East Indian films until closing in early-2003.

The Des Plaines Theater was again showing East Indian movies in 2006 and 2007, but was not been used since January 2008 when the theater was used to for a special showing of “High School Musical 2” hosted by Radio Disney. It then re-opened as a performing arts venue, which also shows movies.

In October 2010, work began converting the theater back to a single auditorium. Renovations were completed and the theater re-opened on November 11, 2011. Seating is now provided for 700, with hopes of adding a further 250 seats in the near future. Programming live theatre, Bollywood movies, independent movies, and hopes of including Hollywood movies and film festivals.

The Des Plaines Theatre was closed in January 2014.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 111 comments)

samgreco
samgreco on November 15, 2011 at 3:25 pm

New website is up at http://www.desplainestheatre.com. Photos from the grand opening will be up in a few days.

It was nice to see it “de-twinned” Friday night.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on November 15, 2011 at 4:10 pm

A note to Cinema Treasures Admins. It has not been possible to access links that are embedded within posts, since the website makeover. Is there something that can be done to correct that?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 16, 2012 at 8:32 am

The principals of Pereira & Pereira, the firm that did the 1935 remodeling of the Des Plaines Theatre, were William Pereira and Hal Pereira. Percival Pereira was an older architect who was never a member of this firm.

Khnemu
Khnemu on April 12, 2015 at 11:18 am

This theater has been closed since January 2014.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 14, 2015 at 3:45 pm

This article from the suburban Daily Herald, dated August 25, 2014, says that the Des Plaines Theatre was closed due to violations of the building code. The owner of the theater would like to reopen but is seeking funds from the city to make repairs. Two other potential operators are also interested in reopening the house, including the operator of the Arvada Theatre in St. Charles, but at the time of the article no deals had been made. I haven’t found any more recent articles.

(My apologies for the broken HTML in the version of this comment I posted yesterday, which turned the comment box into a link. I usually check after I’ve posted a comment, but that one I missed.)

tntim
tntim on September 20, 2015 at 8:25 pm

This link is to the May 12, 1928 issue of the “Exhibitors Herald and Picture World” that has pictures and an article about the Des Plaines Theater. View Link

JonasClark
JonasClark on February 9, 2017 at 4:53 pm

Does anyone have the list of pipe ranks which were in the Geneva organ originally installed at the Des Plaines?

Broan
Broan on February 9, 2017 at 5:07 pm

Not that I’ve ever seen. Very little is known about the organ.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on May 30, 2017 at 2:52 pm

Flickr link with a 1951 photo.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/yark64/6372960021/

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on May 30, 2017 at 2:57 pm

1966 image added courtesy of Jennifer Christiansen‎.

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