Pearl Theatre

1820 1st Street,
Highland Park, IL 60035

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Additional Info

Architects: William D. Mann

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The Pearl Theatre was an early movie house in downtown Highland Park on 1st Street between Central Avenue and Laurel Avenue, opposite the railway station. It opened in August 1917. It was closed in 1931 as a silent movie theatre. It was reopened around 1937 and was closed in 1942.

Contributed by Bryan

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

Hugh on September 8, 2007 at 1:18 am

The Pearl Theater was located on First Street, between Laurel and Central. Opposite the train station. I remember that our familily went to a double-feature there in the mid 1940s.

I was told at the time that it was owned by Mr. Pearl, who also owned the Alcyon (now the Highland Park.) And that the zoning laws said there could be no more than two theaters in town. Each time someone would consider opening a second one, Mr. Pearl would open the Pearl for aa short run, until the crisis was over. I believe it was torn down in the 1950s or 60s, and I think a car dealer was put in its place.

Hugh Spencer

Broan on November 23, 2016 at 4:27 pm

William Pearl operated the Highland Park theater from ~1910-1917 (no CT listing). The Pearl opened in August 1917, architect William D. Mann, and seated about 700.

It did reopen about 1937-1942, showing talkies.

Broan on November 23, 2016 at 5:17 pm

The Pearl seated 720. The 1912 Sanborn map shows a small nickelodeon on the second floor of a building at 15 (Later 515) Central. The 1918 Sanborn Maps show the Pearl open, the 515 Central theater closed, and another, vacant theater next door seating 448 at 519 Central (this being the Highland Park). Between 1918-1924, a stage was added to the Pearl.

So, the Alcyon was actually the fourth theater in HP.

Broan on November 23, 2016 at 5:18 pm

There’s also some indication that the Ravinia Theater showed movies for a time.

DavidZornig on January 25, 2023 at 1:20 am

Additional history below credit Highland Park Historical Society.

Shortly after the opening, owners William and Bertha Pearl executed a 15 year lease for both the Alycon and Pearl for 35,000$/year to the Highland Park Theater Co, according to the Chicago Tribune (Nov. 3, 1925), citing lawyers for both parties. The 1925 theater installed a “3/13” Barton Organ. (Junchen, David L. Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ. Pasadena, Calif: Showcase Publications, 1985.) In January 1928, a “bandit” robbed the safe and fled with $2100, 3 days income. The thief covered the assistant manager, Saul Greenberg, with a blanket before locking him in the washroom. (Chicago Daily Tribune) The Bulletin of the Chicago Medical Society V33 cites the Alycon for installing systems so the “hearing impaired” could listen to “Talkies.” In 1940, Pearl installed additional RCA sound equipment in the (now) 1150 seat theater.“ (Motion Picture Herald. New York, N.Y: Quigley Pub. Co., vol. 140, nos. 71-113. 1940.)

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