319 W. State Street,
319 W. State Street,Geneva, IL 60134
2 people favorited this theater
Previously operated by: Valos Theaters
Previous Names: Fargo Theatre
Opened in 1928 as the Fargo Theatre, the name was changed to Geneva Theatre in 1940 and it became part of the Valos Circuit.
It was twinned in 1987 and closed in 2000. Currently a store operates in the former lobby.
Contributed by Dave Wiegers
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Recent comments (view all 15 comments)
I used to work at this theater……it was a classic old place. It’s a shame it closed. I worked there when I was 15 (i’m now 22) and I can distinctly remember that the seating arrangement consisted of every other row was a table with a little lamp built in…..you could order food in the lobby, take a number placard back to your seat and the attendant would bring you your food (not your conventional candy and popcorn either……but chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, pizza, etc….) I thought that was such a cool idea…..except for the fact that I was one of those people that had to deliver the food……..The reason I think this whole place failed is that they showed movies that had come out a couple months prior, and only charged $1.00 per person. It was a good deal, but obviously it didn’t make a profit. It really is sad that it closed.
The Geneva and its sister Polka Brothers circuit theaters in Sycamore and [/theaters/1660/]Dekalb[/url] were built by former Geneva Mayor (1903-04, 1907-10) and State Representative (1910-1912) Henry B. Fargo. A 2002 Daily Herald letter notes that owners Carol and Jerry Boose renovated the Geneva at a cost of 3 times what demolition would have cost, and restored the marquee as a community events sign. The letter also states that it was built in 1924 and built by the Wilson Brothers.
Is this theatre closed? If so, what gives?
And now I see that it was “twinned”!
I went past this place recently. Other than the marquee, there is little evidence that this was a cinema. And the marquee appears to be used for public service announcements.
The Fargo Theatre was damaged by a fire on March 19, 1937. The April 3 issue of Boxoffice said that repairs were proceeding rapidly and the theater would reopen soon. The theater was owned by Charles Fargo and was then being operated by the Fred Anderson circuit.
The latest mention of the Fargo I’ve found is from 1939, and the earliest mention of the Geneva is from 1943.
The Valos circuit had the Geneva Theatre extensively remodeled in 1947, and an illustrated article about the theater by the decorator on the project, Hanns Teichert, was published in Boxoffice Magazine’s issue of June 19, 1948.
Daily Herald, 11/15/2009)
Geneva marquee serves as community bulletin board
It’s not exactiy “getting your name up in lights,” but it sure is a good way to get the word out about a community event and remind people about what is happening in Geneva.
The marquee of the old Geneva Theater displays messages about school, park district, chamber of commerce, cultural arts or charitable organization events and fundraisers.
And it all happens through Pagans, a company owned by downtown developer Joe Stanton.
“It used to be that the chamber of commerce took care of the marquee, but Joe noticed that the women who work for the chamber were always the ones having to get up on the ladder to change the message and he just didn’t think that was right,” said Debbie Draus, office manager at Pagans.
“We have a maintenance person who works on that theater building anyway, so it was easier forus and we volunteered to take it over and do something for events that bring the community together,” Draus added.
The chamber, library, schools and parks get first dibs on the marquee when they have events taking place, Draus said of the free billing on the marquee.
“It’s not for stores to promote a sale or anything like that, but it is for events that would bring people into town, and the stores benefit from that,” Draus added. “We have a lot of requests for use of the marquee, and organizations are finding that it’s booked well in advance."
Any planners who feel their event might qualify for marquee placement can check in with Pagans at (630) 208-0319.
I lived in “Old Town” Geneva, Il., for 10 years. My three children and I have very fond memories of this theater. It was a great neighborhood gathering place and usually showed family friendly movies. I moved from Geneva in 1995 and was very saddened to hear the theater had closed in 2000. I think that when a small town loses its downtown movie theater, the downtown area will eventually suffer an economic downturn. This movie theater and downtown State Street were featured in the film, “The Road To Perdition.”
In 1947 and 1948 I was an usher at the Geneva Theatre having been hired by Alex Valos.I was 12, but stood at six feet. Another school mate, Daniel Serika was also an usher. The theatre also had a counter grill off to the right and we were allowed to have dinner there. We were paid 75cents an hour. I could also set the marquee for another dollar.We had uniform jackets and wore white shirts with a black bow tie. Saturdays there were special children shows including free Hollywood Comics -actually returns the covers of which had been sliced but a heavy paper with the title Hollywood Comics stapled over them. I rose my bike from my home at 500 Franklin Street to the theatre. I was allowed to keep my bike in the lobby off to the side. My earnings were kept in a savings account. I recall a store to the left of the theatre as you faced it where Scouting uniforms and equipment was sold. Chuck Windsor