Spencer Theatre

1903 2nd Avenue,
Rock Island, IL 61201

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Paramount Pictures Inc.

Architects: George P. Stauduhar

Firms: Hanssen & Harfst

Previous Names: Crystal Theatre, Family Theatre, Spencer Square Theatre

Nearby Theaters

Ad for Spencer Square Amusements

Opened as the Crystal Theatre on December 25, 1905. Following alterations in 1907, it reopened as the Family Theatre as a vaudeville theatre. It stood on 2nd Avenue between 19th Street and 20th Street. On November 25, 1915 it was renamed Spencer Square Theatre. It was remodeled in 1916 and renamed Spencer Theatre. It was equipped with a theatre pipe organ, and went over to full time movie theatre use. In 1945, according to the Film Daily Yearbook, it could seat 1,000 and was operated by a subsidiary of Paramount Pictures Inc. The Spencer Theatre was closed in December 1951 and was demolished in September 1955 to be replaced by a parking lot.

The theatre was named for Spencer Square, the park that once stood across from the theatre. It too was also cleared away in the 1950’s, and Rock Island’s new post office and courthouse were constructed on the site.

Contributed by Bryan

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 9, 2011 at 5:51 pm

The July 8, 1908, issue of The Moving Picture World said that the Family Theater in Rock Island would “…open for a summer run of moving pictures and illustrated songs.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 1, 2012 at 9:12 pm

The papers of Rock Island architect George P. Stauduhar include plans for the Spencer Square Theatre, dated 1915-16. The only other theater project in the papers is a house called Shield’s Movie Theatre, also in Rock Island, dated 1917. I’ve been unable to find any other references to it on the Internet.

JeffAdamson
JeffAdamson on March 19, 2017 at 6:33 am

I just added a new photo that I found of the Spencer Theater in Rock Island, IL. Looking at the marquee, I find it odd that they would be advertising the other two movie theaters up the street.

rivest266
rivest266 on July 1, 2017 at 11:29 am

This opened as spencer square theatre iOn November 25th, 1915. Grand opening ad in photo section

dallasmovietheaters
dallasmovietheaters on June 11, 2019 at 4:48 pm

According to the local newspaper, this location opened as the Crystal Theatre on Christmas Day, December 25, 1905. J.C. Sodini bought the Crystal in 1907 hiring architects Hanssen & Harfst of Davenport to improve seating and extend the stage. The theatre reopens as the Family Theatre in 1907.

On November 25, 1915, the theatre rebooted as the Spencer Square Theatre to the plans of architect G.P. Stauduhar. It launched with Theda Bara in “Carmen” and a new $15,000 pipe organ by the Bennett Organ Company. The Spencer Square transitioned to sound and often went by the name the Spencer Theatre. The film switched to art films in 1951 and its “adult only” policy rankled the city which made the Spencer Theatre owners pledge to show “better” films in December of 1951. The Spencer appears to have closed instead of abiding by the policy.

In 1952, a proposal to bulldoze the theatre in favor of a parking garage was scrapped by Mayor Carl Bauer in 1953. The Spencer sat vacant until August of 1955 when a permit to raze the theatre was approved. The former theatre was demolished in September of 1955. The Spencer Square green space park and bandstand were torn away the following summer with dynamite used to blast away the bedrock below allowing for the creation of a government building.

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