Grand Theatre

220 E. Main Street,
Du Quoin, IL 62832

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bodkin6071 on December 15, 2018 at 7:54 pm

New website on the Grand’s restoration process:

bodkin6071 on December 15, 2018 at 7:53 pm

The Grand was finally sold to a new owner, from Texas, back in August.

DU QUOIN – It would appear that the Grand Theater in Du Quoin sold at auction Thursday.

Mayor Guy Alongi said the word he received was that a buyer located in Texas purchased the building from Regions Bank for $5,000. The name of the buyer has yet to be disclosed.

The bank previously offered to donate the building to the city, but the city refused, citing high repair costs.

“I just want this to be a positive for Du Quoin,” Alongi said. “I hope this buyer has deep pockets and a vision for this building.”

The iconic structure, located on Main Street, has been in disrepair for the last few years. Shows at The Grand were last seen nearly three years ago at the theater (Sept. 15, 2015).

Alongi said a feasibility study was conducted by the city to learn what it would cost to make the necessary renovations and said the cost was too great to tackle.

“It would be close to $1 million,” he said. “And we just can’t justify that kind of expenditure to the taxpayers of this community. Maybe in Carbondale or Marion, but not here.”

The mayor said he is deeply concerned about dilapidated structures in town and how they impact the community. He said The Grand, along with the Elks Lodge, are at the top of the list of buildings needing to be fixed up or demolished, the mayor said.

Alongi added that he would like to meet the buyer and have a conversation with him, offering the city’s support where needed.

The Grand Theater, which opened in 1914 with 900 seats, is one of the last of the small-town Art Deco-style movie houses left in Illinois.

Jeffrey Ashauer, who consults with the city on economic development, said the building’s roof is in pretty bad shape and would have to be replaced. He added that a portion of the north end of the building would have to be demolished and a new wall put up.

Without someone coming forward to repair it, the building is also at risk of becoming a danger to the public, Ashauer added.

“The north third of the building is in danger of falling in,” he said. “If bricks start falling on the sidewalk, we’ll have to condemn it.”

Ashauer added that the initial $1 million outlay would be just the beginning. New theater seats would also be needed, and would cost about $70,000.

LouRugani on September 19, 2016 at 7:36 pm

The sparkling lights of Du Quoin’s Grand Theater, which has been an iconic sight on the city’s Main Street since 1914, went dark on a Tuesday night in September, 2015. The theater will be closed for at least the next few months, according to city officials. “It’s been a problem business for many years. It’s very much loved and it’s a piece of history here, but it hasn’t been successful,” said Mayor Guy Alongi. “We will have to look if it’s financially feasible to keep it open.” Alongi and other city officials are working to gauge interest from the community to determine if the movie theater should reopen, and if the city should buy it or help find a private owner to take over. “We’re going to ask the public a lot of questions,” said Jeff Ashauer, the city’s economic development director. “What do you think the city should do? What would be best for this town?” When Jeannie Burke saw the letters on the theater’s marquee Tuesday night, she knew what her answer would be. “It would be so sad if it didn’t reopen because it’s always been a prominent part of this town, even as other things have come and gone,” said Burke, who works across the street at Main Street T’s. “And what if it’s not there anymore? I hope we don’t have to find out.” Losing the cornerstone business would be tough for Du Quoin, where only a few landmark-type structures remain. “This needs to be addressed, and only time will tell how that plays out,” Ashauer said. Last year, the city loaned theater owner Richie Baker $20,000 to help purchase new digital projection equipment with a price tag of $90,000. None of that loan has been repaid, and Alongi said the theater might have more debt. While the structure is “functioning,“ Alongi wants to make sure the the century-old structure is sound before moving forward. "A new business plan is definitely in order,” he said. “This will be a major investment, so the question will be if the community and the city can stomach it.”

If the theater goes up for sale and the city steps in somehow, Alongi said movies could be showing at the Grand again in the next six months or year.

“Whatever happens, it’s not going to happen overnight,” Alongi said. “When you see that closed sign, it is shocking, but I think we have to take our time and weigh our options with this one."

Norman Plant
Norman Plant on January 18, 2016 at 3:48 pm

Theater is now closed.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 11, 2015 at 7:25 pm

The Grand Theatre suffered at least two major fires in its history, one of which was noted in theis item from The Reel Journal of January 23, 1926:

:“The Grand Theatre, Duquoin, Ill., was destroyed by fire on January 14. An overheated furnace is believed to have been the cause. The fire started about 5:15 p. m., an hour before the usual opening for the evening show.

“The theatre was the property of the Reed-Yemm-Hayes Circuit and seated approximately 1,200 persons on two floors. It was erected but a few years ago at an estimated cost of $150,000.”

The claim that the house had been built only “a few years ago” was a bit off. The theater had been expanded five years before the fire, but had been opened in 1914. An item in the May 28, 1921, issue of The Anerican Contractor said that Reid, Yemm & Hays were having alerations and an addition made to their Grand Theatre in Du Quion, Illinois. The project, designed by St. Louis architects Kennerly & Stiegemeyer, was to cost $25,000.

An article about the 1926 fire in The Daily Independent of Murphysboro, Illinois, said that the Grand had been built in 1914. But construction might have begun in 1913, as the August 30 issue of Construction News that year ran this item:

“Du Quoin, Ill.—Theater. Private plans. Owner, Reed & Yemm Theater, taking bids, no date set for closing. Brk., 2 stys., 40x100.”
Another major fire at the Grand was reported in the Carbondale Free Press of January 23, 1931. This fire, which gutted the auditorium, started in the wiring of the speakers. The house was by then operated by Fox Theatres, the original partners having sold out in 1929.

Reid and Yemm were operating a theater called the Lyric in Du Quoin at least as early as 1910, when they endorsed the Edison Projecting Kinetoscope in an ad for the company in the Octiber 5 issue of The New York Dramatic Mirror. I’m not sure when Hayes became a partner of Reid and Yemm, but the January 8, 1916, issue of The Moving Picture World said that a William R. Hayes had bought the Majestic Theatre in Du Quoin. It was probably the same guy.

Kennerly and Stiegemeyer designed other projects for Reid, Yemm & Hayes, including a 1921 house at Zeigler, Illinois. Since they were practicing by 1913, they might have been the original architects of the Grand as well as the architects of the 1921 expansion.

bodkin6071 on April 2, 2011 at 3:12 pm

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

bodkin6071 on November 5, 2010 at 7:08 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 October 23, 2010 at 11:53 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 May 3, 2009 at 7:59 pm

Picture from April 1986:
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bodkin6071 on May 3, 2009 at 7:59 pm

Picture from February 1985:
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merechele on August 26, 2008 at 4:11 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.

melders on June 5, 2008 at 1:14 am

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.

bodkin6071 on June 4, 2008 at 8:32 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.

bodkin6071 on July 18, 2006 at 7:21 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.

melders on April 8, 2006 at 4:56 pm

The theater had its grand reopening yesterday. Still showing new releases, although they did raise ticket prices to $4. Still almost half as much as all other theaters in the area.

melders on January 26, 2006 at 10:08 pm

The local paper recently ran this article on the sale and eventual reopening of the theater.

bbscs on January 26, 2006 at 6:28 pm

My cousin was manager at the Grand in the early 1970’s and I was in the projection booth many times, the projectors were indeed illuminated by carbon arc lamps and in fact the theatre was equipped with a 16 channel stereo sound system.

bbscs on January 26, 2006 at 6:23 pm

Update on the Grand. The Grand was placed on the market on 01/19/2006 and had a buyer by 01/21/2006. The name of the new owner has not yet been released but the real estate company representative stated that the new owner plans to keep the Grand running in the spirit of Bill Ivy, maintaining new releases at extremely low prices.
The Grand deservese to be restored and kept in operation, if for no other reason than the large screen and beautiful art deco style and it’s amazing run of continuous operation.

melders on September 13, 2005 at 10:04 pm

Unfortunely this theater is now closed. Mr. Ivy had a stroke, probably not too many days after Mr. Bodkin attended. Since the theater is run my Mr. Ivy and a couple employees, his family decided to close the theater until he is well again. They are currently unaware of when the theater will open again, but they hope is does soon.

bodkin6071 on August 7, 2005 at 1:48 pm

Just got back from seeing “Dukes of Hazzard” at the Grand and it was an impressive show, except for the brief moment when the film got out of frame in the middle of the movie! Fortunately it was straightened out and the show continued. To my guess about 40-50 people showed up, this was the Sunday 2:00 matineee ($2 is a steal!)

As I was watching the end credits, I was standing by the booth door (this was on the lower level), it was open and just happened to get a glance of the equipment. They are as follows (upper level is probably the same as well): Strong Super Lume-X lamphouse, Super Simplex projectors, RCA soundheads, and ORC (orange ones) platters. Up till about 17 years ago when it was twinned, the Simplexes were toghether in the upper booth, (mated to carbon arc lamps I bet!) the second projector brought downstairs. This theater was built in 1945, so they’re as old as the theater itself! Anyways, the picture was pretty fuzzy (I sat in the very front, about 20 feet from the screen, and later moved back), but it was probably poor focusing, not the projector itself. Those Super Simplexes are very trusty projectors! As I was leaving, I met Bill Ivy again (earlier he took my money and gave my ticket) and he asked if I liked the film, to which I replied “yes”., and told him it was a great movie and left. You can bet i’ll be returning. Dukes was my second film there, the first being “Open Range” back in 2003.