Wilmette Theatre

1122 Central Avenue,
Wilmette, IL 60091

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Wilmette Theatre, Wilmette, IL

Viewing: Photo | Street View

This theater was built in 1914, and was originally called the Central Theatre. It was twinned in 1989, and, although the lobby portion of the building retains much of its vintage charm, the house is, sadly, down to concrete walls with acoustical panels. The exterior blends in with most other buildings of its era, but has a charming juxtaposition with its marquee and box office.

The shows are well worth it at only three dollars, and likewise reasonable concessions, and the fare is generally art and independent. It’s a gem!

Contributed by Brian Wolf

Recent comments (view all 28 comments)

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on June 12, 2006 at 11:58 am

I’m with you Brian…I like the old marquee better. The red and white color scheme fit better with the building, and that corny “W” on the front had been a staple of Downtown Wilmette my entire life.

All that being said, I am glad it is still with us. It’s pretty cool to think about how many generations of North Shore resident have gone to the movies there.

mp775 on July 25, 2006 at 4:29 am

Maybe the stage shows will keep it going, but I can'I don’t know how this is going to make it as a first-run, $8-a-pop movie house. The draw of the Wilmette was the price and the selection of independent releases that you wouldn’t even find at the Landmark or CineArts. Even with the “renovations,” which I think did more harm than good, it’s still the same cramped theater with uncomfortable seats and a third-rate sound system, with several modern megaplexes nearby. To make matters worse, when I got there at 7:02 for a 7:00 show and asked if there were any previews, one of the staff assured me there was, and he had “just started it.” So I paid and walked into the auditorium – several minutes into the movie.

How did the Village of Wilmette allow the marquee to be replaced?

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on July 21, 2007 at 8:31 am

That marquee is u-g-l-y!

I saw two movies here, LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL and THE TAILOR OF PANAMA. The latter was in 2000 or 2001. I recall the place being tiny and it reminded me of the 3Penny or the Village. Now it’s been renovated? How?

RobinW on February 19, 2008 at 4:43 pm

The new marquee on the theatre is indeed ugly! Or perhaps “minimalist” is the proper word here. I’ve been to this theatre a couple of times and it is a cramped, unpleasant place. Paul F, I saw “Life is Beautiful” here and I thought the movie was condescending, trivializing, and appalling.

Cam on April 5, 2008 at 10:32 am

Some recent photos of the exterior are in set #23, here:

DavidZornig on November 20, 2008 at 9:42 pm

My father worked for John Colburn in the late 50's or early60’s. Before going down to Vougue Wright & Fred Niles Studios (Which Oprah eventually bought).

I was at the Wilmette a couple times in the 60's, then again in the70’s.
Thought I saw “Hot Rod” with Pernell Roberts & Robert Culp there.
But I can’t recall if that was originally a theatrical release or made for TV. Might have been a second run of “The Wanderers” with Ken Wahl.

There used to be a vintage ice cream/burger shop called Bob’s about a block away. It had dark wood walls and old style ice cream glasses. Many families would go there with kids in tow.

ws2 on November 27, 2008 at 1:50 pm

I was googling and came across this clip of the theater on youtube:


CinemarkFan on November 27, 2008 at 2:46 pm

Awesome find. Thanks for sharing.

DavidZornig on April 25, 2009 at 7:30 pm

There currently are more live music events at the Wilmette. Various members of the Chicago Cabaret Professionals have had featured showcases there, as well as at the Skokie Theatre.

P.S. That Wilmette Chuck Wagon next door had great burgers also back in the day. I believe it may still be there.

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