Grand Theatre

220 E. Main Street,
Du Quoin, IL 62832

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Grand Theatre

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This old theatre, opened in the 1920’s with 900 seats, is one of the last small-town deco movie palaces left in Illinois. It is no longer the showplace it was originally, but, it was in daily operation showing new releases for many years. In 1992 a second screen was added in the former balcony. In 2008, it was advertising ‘three’ screens

The Grand Theatre is in need of preservation. The interior is hidden under a couple of layers of “improvement and renovation”. It has many of it’s most amazing assets covered by a dropped ceiling and a few layers of paint. A magnificent marquee is in need of restoration and its deco style concession area is still in good shape. The current owner planned to keep it going as long as possible but is concerned for it’s future.

The Grand Theatre is truly a movie palace. It’s small town location and continuous operation put in a very unique position. Most of the small town palaces are gone, they will never be back. If for no other reason the Grand Theatre should be kept going and if possible be restored. The Grand Theatre was closed on October 18, 2010 screening “Alpha and Omega” and “Let Me In”. However, after a two weeks closure, it was re-opened on November 5, 2010.

Contributed by Robert Mcclanahan

Recent comments (view all 16 comments)

bodkin6071 on July 18, 2006 at 5:21 pm

Well, looks like i’ll be the first to comment since the reopening… The Grand reopened on Friday, April 7, 2006 with the films “Cheaper By The Dozen II” and “V for Vendetta”. I finally returned this past sunday to see the movie “Little Man” up in the upstairs theatre. That wasn’t enough, I decided to take my mother up there today to see “Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man’s Chest” today in the main theatre. I must say I am really impressed with how the Bakers fixed this place up. New carpet has been laid in the theatres, the lobby and concession stand area have received fresh coat of paint, what really caught my eye was a picture on the wall right behind the ticket stand, a picture of the Grand taken back in 1992 with the movies “Lawnmower Man” and “Basic Instinct” on the marquee. Plus on the walls nice airbrush paintings of Disney movie characters have been painted. Other than new carpet and new glass on the projecor ports, the upstairs theatre has not changed much. Still has the same equipment when Bill Ivy ran it. The big change was the downstairs theatre, it has totally received a new coat of flat black paint all over, including on the ceiling! I must admit it was not as bright in the theatre this time, due to the paint. Now it’s a theatre! Equipment wise, it is still the same, also receiving port glass and new stereo sound (upstairs theatre is still in mono sound), delivered by a Ultra Stereo processor. Made watching “Pirates of the Carribbean” a nice experience. We got to talk to Richard Baker’s wife afterwards, told her how nice the place is now, then my mother asked about Bill Ivy. She told us he’s now in a nursing home.

bodkin6071 on June 4, 2008 at 6:32 pm

In October 1981 the Grand was listed as still being a single screen.

However in July 1984 it was listed as a twin, so it was either twinned sometime in 1983 or early 1984.

melders on June 4, 2008 at 11:14 pm

Sorry it took so long for a reply, Lost Memory, but I do believe the Grand is now a triplex. I only saw it advertised in the local paper once that they were now a triplex and then nothing else, so not sure when or how they triplexed it.

merechele on August 26, 2008 at 2:11 pm

I can’t tell you when they made the transformation for sure but I know it happened in the last year. My husband and I don’t go to the movies very often but we went to the Grand it was still just a twin and the next time we went it was a triplex. So I know it has been in the last year. They added the extra screen by splitting the downstairs auditorium. They do sometimes run 4 movies by showing the kid friendly movies early and the adult friendly movies later.

bodkin6071 on May 3, 2009 at 5:59 pm

Picture from February 1985:
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bodkin6071 on May 3, 2009 at 5:59 pm

Picture from April 1986:
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bodkin6071 on October 23, 2010 at 9:53 am

The Grand closed again October 18, 2010.

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DU QUOIN- Attendance problems at Grand Theater in Du Quoin forced owners to close the historic theater Monday, but owners aren’t ruling out a re-opening if they can find help with funding.

Rich Baker, co-owner of the theater, said the reason for closing is simple, “We just went broke.”

He said the theater simply couldn’t sell enough tickets to make the business viable. Baker said the theater screened two new releases Friday night, but only around 20 people came to the theater. He said attendance Saturday and Sunday wasn’t much better.

He said he’s tried to keep the theater open. It employed one full-time employee and about 10 part-time employees.

“Attendance has been so bad,” Baker said. “We thought maybe if we had a good weekend we could keep it going.”

Baker said attendance has been an issue since he bought the theater in 2006. He said summer attendance is always better but it drops sharply when students return to school.

Baker said he’s looking into possible grant opportunities and potential help from the city to keep the nearly 100-year-old theater operating.

As a small, independent theater, Baker said it is more difficult to get films; many times the theater has to put forward an advance to get first-run films, with no guarantee of recouping the cost.

“If we could just break even we’d be happy,” he said. “We invested our entire life savings into that theater. We’ve had some good times, just not enough of them.”

Du Quoin Mayor John Rednour Sr., who was out of town on business, said he first heard of the theater closing Tuesday and, upon his return, was going to see what, if anything, the city could do to help.

Fred Huff, president of Du Quoin Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber will do everything possible to keep the historic theater in operation.

“It’s part of Du Quoin’s history,” Huff said. “There’s just something about a movie theater – it’s the heart of the community. One way or the other, I feel it would reopen as a theater.”


Copyright 2010 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Posted in Local on Wednesday, October 20, 2010 2:00 am

bodkin6071 on November 5, 2010 at 5:08 pm

The theater reopened again today.

Bakers plan to open Grand Theater once more
By Stephen Rickerl, The Southern | Posted: Thursday, November 4, 2010 4:00 am

DU QUOIN – Owners of the historic Grand Theater in Du Quoin have decided to make another go at keeping the theater open.

Scherry Baker, co-owner of the Grand Theater, said she, her husband and son all co-own the theater and discussed ways they might be able to keep it open over the weekend. She said they decided Monday to try to make it work.

The owners decided to close theater doors Oct. 18 because of attendance problems, which they said had been an issue since they bought the theater in 2006.

Baker said it took a lot to keep the theater open, but it is worth it for the family. She said she and her husband cleaned out their retirement account and her son emptied his savings account to keep the theater in business. Baker said she didn’t want to see the theater shut down because of the personal meaning the theater held for the family of owners.

“We had to scrape together enough money to keep it going,” she said. “I don’t want to see it shut down; it’s personal.”

Baker said working hard to keep the theater open is worth it for her. Being retired, she said the couple enjoys operating the theater and it gives the children in Du Quoin something to do. She said when word got out about the theater closing she received several phone calls from the public and from schools which would go to the theater for screenings.

She said she appreciates the outpouring of support and it was a factor when deciding whether or not to try to reopen the theater.

Fred Huff, president of the Du Quoin Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber would do everything it could to help the theater because it’s an integral part of the community.


Copyright 2010 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Posted in Local, News on Thursday, November 4, 2010 4:00 am Updated: 11:29 pm. | Tags: Du Quoin, Grand Theater, Scherry Baker, Movies

bodkin6071 on April 2, 2011 at 1:12 pm

You need to update the status to “Open” as it reopened in November 2010.

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