Apollo Theatre AC

104 N. State Street,
Belvidere, IL 61008

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Related Websites

Apollo Theatre (Official)

Additional Info

Previously operated by: Hainline Circuit

Functions: Concerts, Live Music Venue

Previous Names: Apollo Theatre, Cinematix 770, Dollarodeon, Apollo Activity Center

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 815.275.7137

Nearby Theaters

Apollo Theatre, Belvidere, IL

As evidenced by this recent photo, the Apollo Theatre (and its surroundings) is in bad shape, but reportedly on the rebound. Along with the theatre, the downtown area of Belvidere was designated an Illinois Main Street Community project in 1996 and funds were allocated to restore the city and the theatre. It’s clearly coming along slowly, but the old Apollo Theatre, which opened with 950-seats on January 11, 1922 on the site of the former Derthick Opera House. It was built for and operated by the Rhinehardt family to be used for plays, movies and vaudeville. The opening production was the musical comedy “Take It From Me”. There were 14-dessing rooms and a pipe organ was installed. By 1936 it had been remodeled and went over to X-rated films in 1971 and was re-named Cinematix 770 and from 1974 was known as the Dollarodeon (a play on words of the old nickelodeons) showing regular movies for a dollar. In 1975 fire in the balcony (the work of two juveniles) closed the theatre for a while. It was reopened but closed again in 1978 until 1981 when it reopened screening family movies. In 2000 it became a banquet hall.

Megan Sawchuk of Belvidere Illinois writes as of 9/11/02, “The picture provided for this theatre shows construction in front of it, but it is not for the theatre. The bridge over the Kishwaukee river is right next to it and it was being rebuilt.

“Actually, the area around the theatre and the theatre itself are not in bad shape. In fact the theatre and the bridge are finished. Although, the theatre is no longer a theatre. It’s quite sad, but somebody bought the building and turned it into a Mexican dance club.

“It still has the marquee sign out front, but it just says ‘Apollo’ in big letters. All of the original furnishings have been discarded. This includes the original curtains, which were really something nice, and all of the seats.

“[The theatre] never looked as shabby as it does in that picture. I used to work across the street from there and I was there during the construction on the bridge. There is also a mural on the wall that is on the right side of the picture. It’s a Mexican heritage mural.

“It’s a shame that none of the integrity could be salvaged in this building.” It now is now in use as a banquet hall known as the Apollo Activity Center. By June 2022 it had reopened as a concert & live music venue renamed Apollo Theatre AC.

On the evening of March 31, 2023 the theatre was hit by a tornado which collapsed its roof. A concert by heavy metal band Morbid Angel was in progress and supporting act Brazilian death metal band E.T. Crypta had just finished their set. Reports came in of one death and 40 injured. The marquee on the front of the theatre also fell onto the sidewalk.

It reopened on September 9, 2023.

Contributed by Paul Salley, Megan Sawchuk

Recent comments (view all 22 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 2, 2011 at 9:22 am

A list of U.S. radio stations broadcasting as of May, 1923, includes station WOAG, located in the Apollo Theatre, Belvidere, Illinois. A chronology of early radio says that WOAG began broadcasting in October, 1922. The Federal government began licensing radio stations for commercial broadcasts in late 1920, so WOAG was one of the fairly early ones.

I’ve come across references to a late 19th-early 20th century theater in Belvidere called the Derthick Opera House. Some sources say that it was next to the river. I think it might have been on the same site as the Apollo. The November, 1917, issue of Safety Engineering reported that the “Dorthic” Opera House at Belvidere, Illinois, had been destroyed by fire on October 1, 1917. This publication also said that the theater was next to the river.

The December 6, 1913, issue of The Moving Picture World said that the Zimperhoff Brothers, of Chicago, had been negotiating a two-year leas on the “Derthofk” Opera House in Belvidere, with the intention of operating it as a movie house. I’ve been unable to discover if they got the lease, but given the state of the theater business in the 1910s, odds are good that the Derthick did show movies in its last years.

teresa on September 2, 2011 at 10:32 am

Im not sure what date it is but inside of the apollo there’s a plaque where it has the name of the person who first owned it and build it and it also has the date of when it was built. Im not to sure of the history of it I just know its been there for a while. I think its so cool to go into places like this. I guess because it so historic.

murmurer40 on April 27, 2012 at 12:42 am

Grew up in Marengo and went to the Apollo with my parents and my grandmother….fond memories…

Ssc48 on July 9, 2022 at 12:53 am

This theatre is open

50sSNIPES on April 1, 2023 at 3:09 am

This just came in a hour ago: The Apollo Theatre AC is now closed due to a roof and marquee collapse from damaging winds while all of Boone County at the time was under a Tornado Warning, along with Northern DeKalb and Western McHenry Counties. Multiple people were reported injured when the Apollo’s roof collapsed during a Morbid Angel concert, while the marquee suddenly falls to its side on the sidewalk possibly undamaged from the gust.


Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on April 1, 2023 at 7:46 am

The Apollo opened on Wednesday, January 11, 1922.

DavidZornig on April 1, 2023 at 7:33 pm

Chicago Tribune link with 20 photos of collapse.


50sSNIPES on April 1, 2023 at 11:42 pm

The tornado was confirmed as an EF1. There were now 40 reported injuries.

muviebuf on April 2, 2023 at 8:56 pm

That the Belvidere area was in the path of severe storms, high winds and possible tornadoes was forecasted days in advance. The concert could have and should have been postponed. And its not just the concert promoters who bear responsibility. Where were the municipal officials?

The personal injury lawyers will have a field day with this one.

RickB on September 16, 2023 at 7:26 pm

Back in operation today (9/16) with a Mexican Independence Day event. Rock River Current story here.

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