Arcada Theater

105 E. Main Street,
St. Charles, IL 60174

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Arcada Theater, St. Charles, IL - stage from balcony

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The Arcada Theater opened on September 6, 1926. With Spanish-Venetian decor, the theater was originally a vaudeville palace, designed by architect Elmer F. Behrns. It could seat a little over 1,000. Among the stars to appear on its stage in its early years were George Burns & Gracie Allen, Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy and Jeanette McDonald.

During the 1940’s, and again in the 1960’s, the theater underwent renovations and remodelings, including one in the 1960’s which reduced its seating to 900 by adding wider seats and aisles. The Arcada Theater was operated by Plitt and Cineplex Odeon in the 1980’s and early-1990’s, and in 1993 was sold to Classic Cinemas, whose owners painstakingly restored the Arcada Theater to its original appearance and also made many upgrades to the theater, including DTS sound and modern cinema equipment. The Arcada Theater was one of the jewels of the Classic Cinemas chain.

Privately owned, since 2001 when Classic Cinemas sold it (they took over the 18-screen Charlestowne Mall theaters that year, also in St. Charles) the Arcada Theater functioned as a venue for live performances, brew and view type movie showings, and classic silent movie screenings, accompanied by the Arcada’s organ. Also, big television events were also shown on the large 20' by 40' screen, such as the Superbowl and Academy Awards.

In January of 2005, the outgoing previous ownership of the Arcada Theater announced that it would be closing the theater. However, during the summer of 2005, the Arcada Theater reopened under new management, now operating as a venue for concerts, live stage performances, special events and film screenings.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 80 comments)

klimkm
klimkm on October 23, 2006 at 2:45 pm

I went to the 80th anniversary vaudeville show, and I really thought that Onesti group and the three sheeters club that put on the show did a great job of re-creating what I think must have been what a true vaudeville show was like back then. It was very enjoyable. Good job.

JoiaLucht
JoiaLucht on February 23, 2007 at 2:56 pm

Good afternoon! As a member of Onesti Entertainment, I wanted to stop by and thank you all for your enthusiastic support of The Arcada! As youâ€\ve noted, Onesti Entertainment has taken over the management of the Theatre. You can keep track of our shows by visiting www.TheArcada.com If you are interested in receiving our email newsletters, feel free to email me () and Iâ€\ll add you to the list.

As I believe has been mentioned here, there are still movies shown at The Arcada. You will frequently see silent movies shown with live organ music, as well as film fests, classic flicks, and favorite pop culture movies like “Rocky Horror Picture Show.” We also have live events, such as concerts, ballet, theater and community events.

Restoring The Arcada is a work of love for Ron Onesti, owner of Onesti Entertainment. He is enthusiastic about maintaining the original splendor of the theatre while introducing new generations to the fun and excitement of a classic theatre. If you have any suggestions or requests, we would be happy to hear from you.

Thank you again for your support of The Arcada Theater!

Joia Noel Lucht
Director of Festivals & Special Events

IceCoach
IceCoach on July 8, 2007 at 5:04 am

I am so glad that the Arcada will go on. My Dad was a projectionist there in the 50’s and early 60’s. I can remember seeing the Ten Commandments there and I will always remember that. I can also remember the ladder that my Dad had to climb to reach the projection booth. I don’t know how he did it every day. I remember the Saturday matinees showing all of our favorite cartoons on the large screen. I am glad that another generation will be able to enjoy a great theater.

jwballer
jwballer on April 14, 2010 at 9:01 pm

1929 Exterior
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Current Exterior
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Organ
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Auditorium
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jwballer
jwballer on July 8, 2010 at 8:42 pm

Here are some photos of the newly restored marquee
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jwballer
jwballer on March 7, 2011 at 11:02 pm

Heres some more photos
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DAL
DAL on January 4, 2013 at 5:58 pm

When this theatre only had two triplexes as competition, it could churn out some big boxoffice numbers with a good booking. A couple of interesting facts: (1) Aside from a theatre organ, there was also a turntable in the stage floor. (2) When a would-be burglar broke in and attempted to rob the house safe, all they were able to do was to ruin the dial and make it impossible to access. The safe and its contents were left alone, since it was going to cost more to access the safe than the house fund contained!

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on February 20, 2014 at 3:38 pm

The Arcada’s pipe organ was built by Marr & Colton, originally 3 manuals and 10 ranks of pipes. Its original console supposedly adorned with flamingos. Early in the organ’s life it was rebuilt and expanded to 16 ranks by the Geneva organ company. The existing Art Deco style console dates from that time. Marr & Colton and Geneva were companies that specialized in building pipe organs for theatres but they are not remembered as being the top tier in that category (as for example, Wurlitzer, Kimball, Robert Morton). In short, a Marr & Colton was a lot cheaper than a Wurlitzer. It’s interesting that the owners of the Aracada, obviously building to high standards, choose an organ which was a definite nod to “economy.”

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