Wheaton Grand Theater

123 N. Hale Street,
Wheaton, IL 60187

Unfavorite 17 people favorited this theater

Showing 1 - 25 of 369 comments

whtesoxfan56 on September 29, 2017 at 10:02 pm

Any new updates, on the restoration of this theater? I hope a restoration could successfully occur, for this theater. Unlike the DuPage Theater in Lombard, which got demolished. :(

cmastersin on October 17, 2014 at 9:21 pm

Back in 2011 I learned about the Lowes Kings Wonder Morton console, etc. and the premise of it possibly being installed in the Wheaton, if restoration commenced.. I posted that it should rather be returned to it’s original location in the Kings. I just learned that two months after my posts that it’s owners DID arrange for it’s return to New York! Hurray!

WheatonGrandTheater on July 17, 2013 at 2:14 pm

If anyone sees this, I am the main volunteer in the restoration of the Wheaton Grand Theater. I will occasionally post updates as they happen on here, and please bookmark www.wheatongrandtheater.com and like us on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/WheatonGrandTheater and if you feel gracious, please donate a few bucks to our cause. We are already making big strides and hope to have this open in 2014/15.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on March 13, 2013 at 3:27 am

Great news,thanks….not another parking lot…

CSWalczak on October 12, 2012 at 1:50 am

A prospective buyer has come forward with plans to restore the Wheaton Grand if the sale goes through and a fund raising drive is successful: View article

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on July 27, 2012 at 11:56 am

I never did understand why they had to stop doing concerts here. It seems like it was a reasonable business at least. That they didn’t continue with local shows while money was raised was always a question mark for me.

Rob_Blohm on July 2, 2012 at 12:51 pm

A new group is raising funds online to purchase and restore the Wheaton Grand for use as a concert venue and performing arts center. Visit the fundraiser page at http://www.indiegogo.com/thegrand

cmastersin on April 20, 2011 at 9:44 am

Let everybody understand, I like the Wheaton Grand. I would grimace at seeing this movie palace wrecked. However, being a preservationist, I would truly appreciate the return of the remaining Wonder Morton components to the Kings, if the parties found a way to accomplish this. In the event the Wheaton Grand is saved, there ARE other theater organs out there, awaiting a new home. In fact, I know of a virtually complete 3m Wurlitzer right in my home town, that is available!

cmastersin on April 7, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Send the Wonder Morton back home to the Kings where it belongs

TLSLOEWS on July 14, 2010 at 3:16 pm

Man after all the dedate and name calling on this site now another set back thats too bad looks like a nice theatre.

CSWalczak on July 14, 2010 at 12:32 am

It appears that that the efforts to renovate this theater as a live performance venue have suffered a major setback, as the not-for-profit that owned the theater has defaulted on its loan and has returned the deed to the property to the bank; story here: http://www.dailyherald.com/story/?id=393848. There is still some talk that Classic Cinemas may be interested in buying the theater; see this story from this past April: http://cinematreasures.org/news/23601_0_1_0_C/

MMBERT on January 16, 2010 at 11:42 pm

MarkG I had worked at the Glen and the Wheaton theatres and was wondering when you serviced the equipment? Those two theatres hold a fond place in my heart and any info you have I would be interested in. The only thing that makes the Wheaton theatre “Grand” is tiles on the front of the building that spell it out. I would argue the Wheaton was nicer than the Glen, but the Dupage was the gem of the three back in the day.

CinemaService on January 15, 2010 at 11:12 am

Having grown up in Glen Ellyn and also having done maintainance on the projection and sound systems there for a number of years it’s great to hear this theater lives on. However I’m trying to figure out just whats so grand about it. Both the Glen and the Wheaton Theaters were just plain jane big barns in their days. I grew up in Glen Ellyn and attended the DuPage, Glen, and the Wheaton theaters regularly and the Dupage was the only gem of the trio. Sadly the real gem is gone.

MMBERT on September 2, 2009 at 5:40 pm

In reference to Life’s too short posting on 4/15. In the early 80’s the marquee was covered over because it was in terrible shape. I spoke with the man that did the work and he said the inside of the marquee was a mess back then (supports rusting away, exposed wires, not well supported) and can’t imagine what’s holding the sign on the building. I know when I worked there anytime the snow melted it all leaked though the underside of the sign. It was recovered every spring when I was there. If you have any other question I’d be glad to help.

smcjanerson on July 12, 2009 at 3:52 pm

Jwballer, the renovation hasn’t even started yet. Right now they’re projecting for this thing to be done by 2011. At this rate, who knows when it will ever open. But it’s practically open right now. A church currently rents out the theater, because as we all know Wheaton needs more churches. Of course this place is perfect for rock concerts. I don’t know why the powers that be have decided that rock concerts are not ok. Apparently actually making money is not high on the list of things to do at the theater.

Perhaps someone can tell me if rock concerts will ever be welcome in the newly restored wheaton grand, if that ever happens. Because rock and roll has been banned from there for the past 3 years. Is this a scene from footloose? Are they taking a page from wheaton college and rather than banning dancing they ban rock music? I’m glad Mr Shepardson and the board have taken something that was great for the community and especially great for the teens in wheaton and surrounding areas, and replaced it with yet another church. Sure a church will serve some people, but I think wheaton has every possible denomination covered.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on April 15, 2009 at 8:21 am

At some point the marquee was drastically altered, removing many exciting (and probably expensive) design features. See this 1965 photo for the original look:

View link

kencmcintyre on January 31, 2009 at 7:20 pm

Here is some recent renovation news:

kencmcintyre on January 31, 2009 at 7:19 pm

Here is some recent renovation news:

kencmcintyre on January 31, 2009 at 7:17 pm

Here is some recent renovation news:

JLoster on May 20, 2008 at 9:43 am

This last weekend, the gentleman who is spearheading the Wheaton Grand Theater’s restoration, Mr. Ray Shepardson, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters degree by Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland Ohio. Mr. Shepardson led the efforts to preserve the Playhouse Square theater complex in Cleveland. From a grassroots campaign, Mr. Shepardson staged 200-300 productions per year and saved the theaters from demolition. Between public and private efforts, the project raised $40 million to preserve and reopen the theaters. Civic leaders have hailed Mr. Shepardson’s work in saving the theaters as one of the top ten successes in Cleveland history. We on the Wheaton Grand Theater Executive Board, along with the many volunteers could not be happier to have Mr. Shepardson leading our project. Congratulations Ray!

smcjanerson on March 22, 2008 at 2:33 pm

Am I the only person out there who’s wondering just when the theater is going to START the restoration? There’s been all this talk, plenty of hype, plenty of articles, and so far still nothing. So far it doesn’t even appear that a significant amount of that 8 million has even been raised. According to the blurb at the top, the theater closed April 1st, 2006. That means in a couple weeks, it will have been officially 2 years since the theater closed. And what exactly has been achieved since then?

According to the newsletter on the website, all that’s been going on is the occasional fundraiser for other groups. Maybe this seems like a benchmark for some, but to only accomplish a handfull of fundraisers and come up with a small fraction of what is needed, in 2 years, seems pretty minor to me.

Standing outside the theater it’s not even evident that anything is going on. A church has been occupying the theater for the past year or so. They’ve put more money into remodeling the theater than the Grand Theater Corp has for the past 2 years. Of course a minor facelift doesn’t change the fact that the church is running the place into the ground. Some would say it looks better than ever. I’m not sure what theater they’re looking at. I’ve been inside, and the place is a dump. Is the executive board of the GTC even aware of what’s going on inside? Last I was there, the floors were sticky, the garbage was smelling up the entire building, and the roaches scatter when you turn on the light. It sure doesn’t seem like there’s much upkeep going into the place.

When are the residents of Wheaton going to stop ignoring what’s going on, and start asking questions? I for one would like to know what’s going on. The website hasn’t been updated in months. The last post here in Cinema Treasures was in December, but the last actual news was back in August. Is the board even holding monthly meetings anymore? These used to be open to the public, so the residents could know what was going on. Since the theater closed, I haven’t seen a single notice on the website or at the theater itself about any meetings. Are these meetings being held and just not told to anyone? Seems the board is conducting business in a rather secretive manner. Perhaps they won’t want anyone asking questions. But I’m sure this is something that some board member will come on here and dismiss as paranoid garbage.

With the Paul Warshauer disaster, people on here that don’t have wonderful things to say about the theater are generally regarded as lunatics who are against the theater. Don’t get me wrong here, I support the theater. I’m one of the many who would love to see the theater restored. But barring that, I’d rather see it be used for some public use, instead of sitting dormant waiting for the funds to come in (if they ever come in). I don’t consider a church to be public use, but I’m sure many will. Wheaton has more churchs per capita than any other city in the country. Do we really need more?

When are the residents of Wheaton going to start asking, what qualifies this executive board to run a theater? Do any of them have any experience running a theater or any performance arts venue? Granted Ray Shepardson has a lot of experience, but he’s not on the executive board. In the past the board has demonstrated an inability to run this theater. This board is the one that hired Paul Warshauer and GVI to run the theater. This worked great, for Paul. He sure made plenty of money. Of course, it would have been even more ideal if he had paid his rental on the theater. The board made the mistake of hiring this guy in the first place. Did they even check his references? Obviously he has a trail of mistakes from past venues, something that became abundantly clear as they tried to get rid of him. But he was hired regardless of this. This board has even failed in firing him. It took months to finally get him out of the place. In the end it had to come down to changing the locks in the middle of the night. Some may claim that this was simply because he refused to leave, which indeed was true. But why did they wait so long? He paid only partial rent for 2 months, and then no rent for another 2 months. And then even after his departure, the board continued to keep some of his scheduled shows on the books, and even pay him a partial commission for some.

And why exactly did this board stop the rock concerts? The posts on here claim it was to start the fundraising campaign. This makes no sense to me. The way to raise $8 million is to stop the sole source of income the theater has? I’ve seen it been claimed that ALL events in the theater needed to be stopped to accomodate this fundraising process, not just the concerts. And that perfectly explains why the theater was rented out for several private functions, and eventually to the Antioch Community Church, who still occupy it. Why was it just concerts that were cancelled? In my opinion they were doing good for the community. It gave the kids something to do and kept them off the streets. Granted the streets of Wheaton aren’t exactly riddled with crime, but I’ve never seen so many teenagers downtown as I have when the concerts were going on there. So what exactly is the harm in that?

It seems that the lack of any real progress at the theater is directly due to mis-management. The theater board lacks any real expertise in the operation or restoration of a theater. Now I’m not saying this board should be replaced. I’m not saying the concerts need to be reinstated. I’m not saying the building should be a parking lot. What I am saying is that it’s time for the residents of Wheaton and the friends of the theater to start asking, what’s going on? I’d like to see this theater restored, but after 2 years of little progress, I’m doubtful that they’re going to come up with that $8 million, and after that falls though I have no confidence that this board can come up with a plan B.

Even though I’m sure someone from the theater will come and delete this immediately, I hope enough have read this to at least get the questions started. And I encourage anyone from the executive board to come and answer the questions I’ve mentioned.

BartHalleman on December 23, 2007 at 3:41 am

Another thing to think about is that when the Courthouse Place Condo’s are finished and occupied.What a better place to go to for entertainment than The Wheaton Grand Theater? New residents move into a new town. And nearby the perfect place to see quality entertainment.

JLoster on August 22, 2007 at 2:11 pm

Face-lift studied for old theater
Wheaton pledges support, but not financial guarantee
By Clifford Ward
Special to the Tribune
August 22, 2007

Michael Gresk remembers seeing movies under the twinkling stars set against the blue dome inside the Wheaton Grand Theatre in the 1960s.

“It was quite a showpiece,” he said Tuesday.

Gresk, now Wheaton’s mayor, and the city are studying ways to help — short of taking an active financial role — with the renovation of Wheaton’s 80-year-old downtown theater.

The City Council Monday approved a resolution supporting the Wheaton Grand Theatre Corp., which is working to arrange financing to overhaul the 1,150-seat venue on Hale Street.

That ceremonial step could be the prelude to Wheaton agreeing to lend its name, though not a financial guarantee, that would allow the corporation to issue bonds to finance $13 million in renovations.

“We would issue them, but we don’t guarantee them,” Gresk said. “City taxpayers are not on the hook for this.

“If we can lend our name to the project, then we are happy to do it,” he said.

Project manager Ray Shepardson said work could begin next spring with hopes of a grand opening in spring 2009. Although the theater, which opened in 1925, would have its terra-cotta exterior spruced up, the major work will happen inside, he said.

Wheaton and the theater are also negotiating for eight parking spaces north of the stage side, which Shepardson said would be used for expanded dressing rooms and backstage area.

The corporation has also asked Wheaton to study ways it could impose and collect a $5-per-ticket fee, which would be used to help pay off the renovation loan.

Gresk said the city is looking at whether such a fee would affect other local venues.

The theater itself should generate most of the money for the renovation, said Shepardson, who has overseen 30 to 40 such projects across the country.

“This is one of the lowest-risk theater ventures I’ve seen,” he said. “You’ve got 2 million people living within 15 miles who have an $80,000 median family income.”

Plans call for 350 performances a year. Backers said the theater would draw 300,000 people yearly to downtown Wheaton.

“That can only bode well for downtown retailers and restaurants,” the mayor said.
Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune

berniesgroove on August 21, 2007 at 9:01 pm

Stop by the Wheaton Grand Website at http://www.wheatongrand.net and check out the Wheaton Grand in the News section. Here you can click the link to view the minutes of the presentation to the Wheaton City Council on August 13th.