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.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 106 comments)

TLSLOEWS on November 21, 2010 at 3:54 am

Thanks Lifes too short.

Bruce C.
Bruce C. on January 4, 2011 at 6:57 pm

Any news on how the renovations are going?

Broan on February 8, 2011 at 3:12 am

That was nothing. It was totally contained within the furnace room; I stopped in later that day and it was already vacuumed up. I wouldn’t have known anything had happened unless someone told me. Literally just a dirty furnace.

jwballer on February 9, 2011 at 10:05 pm

Gotta be careful with the renovations.

whtesoxfan56 on November 9, 2011 at 7:31 am

I’m really looking forward to the fact this will be reopening on Friday. I’m very glad it’ll no longer be a twin theater, a la what occurred with the Portage.

Hopefully, pics of the renovated interior emerge somewhere online…

Broan on November 9, 2011 at 2:19 pm

There are some on the Revitalize Des Plaines facebook page. We’re working right down to the wire, but I’ll be sure to post some next week.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on November 12, 2011 at 3:14 pm

Restoration in progress:

Account of the reopening:

As one who remembers the theatre as a dingy twin in the 80’s this is fantastic to see. I salute the effort and hope it serves the community for years to come.

samgreco on November 15, 2011 at 8:25 pm

New website is up at Photos from the grand opening will be up in a few days.

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

DavidZornig on November 15, 2011 at 9:10 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 12:32 pm

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.

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