Arcada Theater

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

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

Viewing: Photo | Street View

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 96 comments)

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on May 18, 2009 at 9:14 pm

Here are two 1984 photos:

Photo1

Photo2

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on June 20, 2009 at 9:01 pm

This is a nice close-up photo.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on October 11, 2009 at 12:41 pm

This is a working link for the Arcada website.

jwballer
jwballer on April 14, 2010 at 4:01 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 3:42 pm

Here are some photos of the newly restored marquee
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jwballer
jwballer on March 7, 2011 at 6:02 pm

Heres some more photos
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DAL
DAL on January 4, 2013 at 12:58 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 10:38 am

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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