Tedens Opera House
106 Stephen Street,
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John Henry Tedens operated a department store on Stephen Street in 1862. In 1895/6, he added a second unit to the building that contained Tedens Opera House on its second floor. Like many opera houses in that era, live programming was the primary source of programming with plays, live music, and dancing. But as motion pictures gained in popularity, opera houses would fill in their schedules with sporadic film exhibition or convert to full-time movie houses. Tedens Opera House opened in 1896. Experiments with motion pictures were conducted and interest was so great that a full-time movie theatre, the Ideal Theatre, was opened in downtown Lemont on January 1, 1915.
The Opera House had a 200-seat advantage over the Ideal Theatre so often films would get an initial play date at the Opera House with 500 seats before moving over and playing out at the Ideal Theatre. The Opera House had a brief period of being called the Tedens Theatre in 1923 due to a switch to regular film exhibition. But the Ideal Theatre took over full time motion picture operation with the Opera House backing away from movies and not converting to sound.
1934 appears to be the last year of operation for the Opera House. In 1948, it was remodeled for a fraternal organization. The building still stands in 2020’s with the letters J.H.T. & Co. 1895 at its top.
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