Pekin Theatre

21-29 S. Capitol Street,
Pekin, IL 61554

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Balaban & Katz Corp.

Architects: Elmer F. Behrns

Styles: Atmospheric, Oriental

Nearby Theaters

Pekin Theatre

Located on the corner of S. Capitol Street and Elizabeth Street, which had been the site of the Capitol Theatre. The Pekin Theatre was opened on November 27, 1928 with Alice White in “The Show Girl”. It continued the striking style of architect Elmer Behrns (the Egyptian Theatre in Dekalb, Illinois and the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles, Illinois). The interior décor was in an Oriental style including ancient Chinese pagoda’s and Chinese goddess figure’s. Similar to other theatres of the late-1920’s, the ceiling “stars” delivered the Atmospheric style to compliment the Oriental style décor. It was designed with an elaborate fully equipped stage for vaudeville productions, but it soon became a movies only theatre. The Pekin Theatre was equipped with a Hinners 3 manual 11 ranks organ, the largest and one of only three ever made by Hinners. In 1937 it was taken over by the Publix-Great States Theatres chain.

The organ was removed in 1970. The theatre closed in 1980. Efforts were made to convert it into a dinner theatre, then a medical building or a civic center by the Citizens for Historic Preservation, but all efforts were unsuccessful. The building, which included the theatre, office space and eight apartments was demolished seven years later, with demolition completed on March 11, 1987.

Contributed by Mark Lenaway

Recent comments (view all 8 comments)

kencmcintyre on March 18, 2007 at 8:38 am

Here is a 1986 photo by Michael Putnam:

heyclerok on November 13, 2007 at 5:07 pm

From the book Silent Screens, I thought this was a neat anecdote about the demolition of the Pekin Theater:

[i]“They called me up and said they had found something, a wallet at the Pekin Theater,” Robert D. king, age 56, of 7 Florentine Court, said. “I said, ‘Yeah, it’s mine. I lost it in 1959 or 1960.’”

from a report in the Pekin Daily Times (December 30, 1986) on the salvage operations at the Pekin Theater, where coins, wallets, and a class ring were found in the concrete ducts running beneath the main floor.[/i]

PLYMOUTH on July 27, 2011 at 8:01 pm

Check out this link for a couple pics.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 4, 2014 at 11:46 am

The Pekin Theatre probably opened in late 1928. A brief announcement that the house had opened appeared in the January 6, 1929, issue of Film Daily.

atmos on May 1, 2015 at 6:01 am

Theatre opened 27 Nov 1928.

Bud Taubert
Bud Taubert on October 15, 2018 at 12:08 pm

Program from dedication and interior view.

Bud Taubert
Bud Taubert on October 15, 2018 at 12:12 pm

Three members of the Pekin Civic Center Authority inspect vacant theater.

Mark on June 20, 2022 at 12:58 pm

Im curious to know who posted the 1970 console picture of the Hinners? Do you have any pictures of theatre organs from other Peoria area theatres?

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