DuPage Theater

109 S. Main Street,
Lombard, IL 60148

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LouRugani on April 29, 2015 at 1:48 pm

Save `The Dupe' … … and save those memories of Main Street

(July 29, 2005, by John McCarron, who teaches, consults and writes on urban affairs. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Remember?

Remember the scary sword fight between Sinbad the Sailor and the skeleton man? Or Sinbad’s face-off with the cyclops on the island of Colossa, where he had to go to break the spell cast over his beloved princess Parisa, who had been reduced to the size of a pocket knife by the evil sorcerer Sokurah?

I didn’t think so. Neither did I before I tweaked my memory on the Internet. What I do remember, like it was yesterday, is that sweet feeling of independence, walking down Main Street, Lombard, with my 12-year-old buddies, chores finished, fancy-free on a Saturday afternoon, off to see “The 7th Voyage of Sinbad” at the DuPage Theatre.

As always, the 1959 action movie was only part of the show at “The Dupe.” Some of my older classmates had begun to hang out with (groan) girls, so first we’d cruise the balcony to see who was necking with whom. Next we’d go down to the long, glassy candy counter for an obligatory box of Milk Duds, maybe even a roll of caramel bull’s-eyes—if the lawn-mowing money held up. Then it was time to settle into the red velour seats, under a fake black sky with twinkling stars, and trip away with Sinbad, or Hercules or Jason and the Argonauts. Loved those sandal flicks.

Ah, The Dupe. Say it ain’t so. Say they’re not going to tear her down.

They can’t tear her down. Not after more than a decade of civic efforts to save her. Not after those efforts secured charitable contributions, plus federal and state pledges, worth $5.5 million. Not after one of the nation’s top restoration architects—Daniel P. Coffey, the guy who helped restore the Chicago and the Oriental and the Palace theaters in the North Loop—has drawn up a sensational plan, not just to save the old theater as a performing arts center, but to infuse Lombard’s anemic downtown with a $30 million wrap-around development of luxury condos and lively storefronts.

Most curious of all, how can they knock down The Dupe when powerful DuPage County politicians are pleading with the Lombard Village Board to give preservation one last chance? U.S. Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), state Sen. Dan Cronin (R-Elmhurst) and former Illinois Senate President James “Pate” Philip (R-Wood Dale)—none previously known as gargoyle-hugging preservationists—are urging the Village Board to reconsider its June vote authorizing demolition.

In some ways you can’t blame the Village Board for losing patience with the project. Ten years ago the volunteer Friends of the DuPage Theatre said a developer was lined up to convert the building into offices and a studio for making educational videos. When that deal fell through the village took title to the 77-year-old theater and its attached offices and storefronts. In 2001 the board appointed a blue-ribbon committee to come up with a plan, but it was slow going.

Seems the “new urbanism” that has inspired towns like Elmhurst, Downers Grove and Arlington Heights to rejuvenate downtowns around restored train stations and theaters has been, well, slow to catch on in the lilac village. It’s still tough to compete there with the big-box discounters on Roosevelt Road and the 18-screen cinema at the Yorktown mall. And public-private partnerships of the kind needed to save The Dupe remain a tough sell politically. It’s still a tax-a-phobic town, even if the John Birch Society long ago closed its anti-communist “library” off St. Charles Road.

Still, there was excitement earlier this year with the unveiling of Coffey’s plan for preservation and redevelopment. His client, developer Richard Curto of RSC & Associates, would restore the theater’s “Spanish courtyard” interior a la the 1928 design by Rapp & Rapp, including those twinkling stars of my youth. In the parking lot south of the theater would rise a five-story condo-over-stores structure of compatible design (this sentence as published has been corrected in this text). Behind the stores, out of sight under the condos, would be two levels of parking for 237 cars, including spaces set aside on weekdays for commuters using the Metra station across the street.

In short, the project would catapult Lombard into the forefront of new urbanism and transit-oriented design. Who knows, the town might even snag a Starbucks. Best of all, contends Coffey, the property and sales taxes from the development, plus the state and federal grants already pledged, would cover the $8.5 million cost of restoring the theater.

But it may not happen. There is bad blood between preservationists and certain members of the Village Board. Deadlines have been missed. Harsh words have been exchanged in public. Other condo developers likely are standing by to pay Lombard serious money for the site—so long as they don’t have to save the theater. Why take a chance on preservation?

“It seems to have come down to plain old personality problems,” said Coffey.

That may be. But for this son of Lombard, this long-ago marcher in the Lilac Parade, it’s also about memories. And the faint hope that some Saturday afternoon in the not too distant future, a 12-year-old and his buddies will be able to walk, not ride, down Main Street, buy some Milk Duds and slip into another world—to the island of Colossa, perhaps—under the stars at the good old Dupe.

EFRCH on August 19, 2014 at 12:45 pm

Does anyone have more info about the Hub Hobbies that was located in the DuPage Theater that was in Lombard, IL. If you do I am very interested to learn more about it.

LKJ on September 19, 2013 at 10:35 am

I remember going there on Saturday afternoons with free tickets we got from the Hobby Hub next door. Those were the days when a kid could leave home and walk downtown without having their parents worrying about them or setting up a “play date”.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on July 27, 2012 at 11:48 am

It’s too bad that something better couldn’t have happened here. To my knowledge the property is still a grass lot. But at least there is some measure of peace in the community now.

musicformovies on October 12, 2011 at 4:01 pm

Here is a slideshow of various interior shots – http://youtu.be/BFkpeGFqDpY

If you are the original owner of these photos please let me know; can’t even remember where I found these online.

I set them to the music of Irenee Berge, a silent film composer from the early 1900s. This version is as it would have been played by a theatre orchestra in one of the bigger movie palaces that could afford an orchestra.

RIP Dupage Theatre.

malicedoom on June 21, 2011 at 8:51 am

R.I.P. DuPage Theater.

TrueClass on November 28, 2005 at 11:15 am

Duper Dude,
What is your next move? There is a guy trying to tear down his treehouse on Maple Street. It has been there for years. Can you stop him.

raymond on November 28, 2005 at 10:37 am

The lawsuit filed by the friends of the Dupage Theatre, the Lombard Historical Society ,and the Illinois Preservation Society against the village of Lombard to stay the demolition of the Dupage Theatre for 6 months was denied today in court.The judge found for the defendant{the Village of Lombard}
A dark day indeed.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on November 28, 2005 at 10:21 am

For the benefit of those of us who aren’t in the loop: what has transpired?

TrueClass on November 28, 2005 at 9:51 am

I think HDTV would like to read about how other preservationists can avoid the same fate as the Lombard group did. If you would like to know what happened, got to www.lombardvillagevoice and click on message boards.

raymond on November 28, 2005 at 9:34 am

hdtv267. Just “what” do you want to read about the Dupage Theatre on this message board?

raymond on November 28, 2005 at 9:25 am

So what? The only liar was Big Idea Corp.I never trusted his motives from day # one.Big Idea was trying to be everything to everybody. The savior of Lombard.Unfortunatly the Village of Lombard didn’t see through him.

DMS on November 28, 2005 at 9:10 am

Check out what happened to the last corporation who tried to renovate the Dupe with private dollars. It proves restoring this theatre was not fiscally responsible for the Village of Lombard.

It also proves we were lied to by the pro-theatre cause who claimed Big Idea simply underestimated the size building they would need for their growing company. NOT!

See below – from the website of the former president of Big idea (who has since declared bankruptcy)

View link

DMS on November 28, 2005 at 9:04 am

Oh please – get me a violin and a hankie.

raymond on November 28, 2005 at 9:00 am

All of the hard work,meetings,ect.ect.Doesn’t mean anything now.
It will be interesting to see just what becomes of the property now.
Like the song say’s.“They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."
People’s assured retirement.What else.
Greed is good.Remember that line.Sure applies well for Lombard.

DuPageDude on November 28, 2005 at 8:36 am

Well folks, it looks like it’s over…Look for several well-known names in town to come forward with a development plan for the theatre property in the coming months…

I STRONGLY believe had the Friends listen to comon sense rather than some of their own inflated egos and scattered reasoning and gone ahead and done the petition drive BEFORE the court hearing, there would be a different outcome. Instead, the issue seems to be pretty much over. If they had show that a MAJORITY of residents were willing to stand up and say that they were in FAVOR of the DuPage Theatre, it would be pretty strong evidence in court and te court of public opinion. Instead, the Friends were outdone by a few individuals with suspicious intentions. Will we finally have them come out and publically identify who they actually are, sort of like Kiss removing their make-up? Probably not, since most people won’t like what they see—they’ll realize they were sold out by some pretty big names, and for what? Corporate greed? People’s assured retirement? It just doesn’t make sense now, does it???

raymond on November 28, 2005 at 7:52 am

2 allies of theater sue to delay razing
Published September 27, 2005

LOMBARD — Two groups fighting to keep the historical DuPage Theatre in Lombard from being torn down are asking a court to enforce a local ordinance that would prohibit the demolition until after a six-month waiting period.
Lawsuits filed Monday in DuPage County Circuit Court on behalf of the Lombard Historical Commission and the Friends of the DuPage Theatre, a non-profit group dedicated to saving the theater, named the village, village trustees and village president in the suit.
While Village President William Mueller has not voted on the issue and supports efforts to restore the theater, the suit asks the court to force Mueller to abide by a village statute that prohibits a demolition until after a six-month period that gives supporters time to find an alternative use or another buyer for the property, attorney Zachary Wilson said.
Mueller, who had not been served or seen the lawsuit, declined to comment until he could review the suit. The board voted June 2 to accept bids to demolish the theater.
Copyright © 2005, Chicago Tribune

DuPageDude on November 7, 2005 at 7:29 am

Melders, here’s another interesting fact regarding True Class. They CLAIM to be a female senior citizen, yet after going through voter registration and a phone call to a very kind older lady, she said she does not even have a computer, and has NEVER posted on here, so don’t call TC a “her” it’s not, it’s this LAMP who really has issues with a few people.
He is probably behind that whole “Jayme Warnock” thing—remember that? What happen to “her” she was sooo against the theatre, yet she disappeared off the face of the earth. Be afraid, be very afraid…

DuPageDude on November 7, 2005 at 7:19 am

Melders, as usual, you are right on!!! I was just sitting in my office thinking when I realized that is the anti-theatre groups intention—to get this site shut down! They have an anti-theatre site that THEY CONTROL. They have banned people from posting that have spoken in favor of the theatre. In fact, whoever goes under the screen name True Class on here goes by LAMP on there, and they ovbiously have a problem with certian people on both sites.
These “people” are bent on destroying our theatre for whatever reason; when points are made to support our cause, they make ridiculous posts to draw attention from the ovbious. The say they are against TIF, yet they have no problem with the Park District accepting $100,000 for a small park. They say they have problems with variances on the theatre, yet they NEVER spoke out publically about several other projects in town-St. John’s church, the hospital or the convention center that required a laundry list of variances to be built. They claim “obscene” harassing e-mails were sent, yet they have NEVER produced a single one. A few months ago, a film maker came to town to film a documentary about the DuPage Theatre, he invited both sides to be interviewed, no one opposed to the theatre showed up. A local reporter who has printed stories about the theatre has yet to print any names of private citizens quoted in her stories, and why? They simply refuse to give their names. Afraid to come into the light, taking pot-shots from the dark, trying to scare people will inneundos and threats of increased taxes due to the theatre is their S.O.P. Some of us try to fight this, only to be ridiculed, harassed and threatened. Again, how sad.
Make no mistake, there are people in Lombard who want to see the DuPage Theatre demolished, and will stop at nothing to see it happen. They claim it is the will of the people, and the Friends refuse to go door to door to see if it really is the will for whatever reason, be it ignorance, ineptitude, attitude, laziness or whatever, their time is running out. Once the theatre is gone, it can never be brought back…The Friends have said that time and time again. Myself and many others have volunteered to hit the streets, but to no avail. Better start saying your good-byes now, after the court date, I’m sure the next day, if not that day, the wrecking ball will fly, and it will be the darkest day in Lombards history. Better start taking down those “Historic Downtown Lombard” signs, there will be no history left…

raymond on November 7, 2005 at 7:01 am

Melders.You are right.They are trying to bring down this board.Let the moderator handle their postings.And I will let it go at that.

melders on November 7, 2005 at 6:50 am

True Class, WILL YOU PLEASE GIVE IT UP AND LEAVE THE SITE! Your postings seem even more ridiculus than some of Dupage Dudes and Conserned Taxpapers. I do not see you doing anything constructive to save the theater, you just say “Tear it down!” Perhaps True Class is trying to get the moderators to shut down the board with her repetitive postings.

DMS on November 7, 2005 at 6:48 am


What do you think should be on this board?

I agree the talk should stay constructive but some good can come from it still. Who cares how it compares to Radio City Music Hall? I thought one old theatre is just as precious as the next?

I suggest that if it bothers you that much you don’t click on it anymore.

If people like Dude can’t control himself then the plug should be pulled. In the meantime stop letting it bother you and stop counting the hits compared to other boards, that is a waste of time and doesn’t help preservation.

TrueClass on November 7, 2005 at 5:56 am

Duper Supporter. DuPage Dude. Restoration Rita and Unconcerned taxpayer are the same person….Jim Devitt. He does not live in Lombard and has not done anything constructive to save the theatre. These are FACTS!

raymond on November 7, 2005 at 5:49 am

true class offers nothing to this message board about saving the Dupage Theatre.I will not respond to true class.I will post around true class.
I hope that the other preservationists who post on this website will do the same.