125 N. Genesee Street,
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Previously operated by: Great States
The Elite Theatre was located on N. Genesee Street, and was first opened as a photoplay theatre on July 3, 1913 with a panoramic reel of the Nation’s Capitol in Washington and a comedy reel “Up and Down the Ladder”, along with a musical performance by Ms. Pauline Harice, and a live performance by Johnnie Bell doing “The Firecracker Dance”. The Elite Theatre would later become a movie house.
Information about the Elite Theatre as of 1913 goes as follows: Whenever the heat strikes a visitor when entering the Elite Theatre abundance of air cooling and ventilating appliances which contains 14 large sized electric blow fans being distributed along the walls and the front of the theatre to cool down the audience, as well as two large fans fastened in the wall over the exits to draw the air out of the building. There are also four large ceiling ventilators leading up through the roof which leads the hot air out. The projection booth was also an ideal of construction for keeping the theatre cool, as its provided with a large electric air-chute which carries all hot air out from a way of the roof.
The entire projection room was constructed entirely out of steel, iron, cement, and asbestos, not even a single piece of wood. Every porthole or opening was being covered by a gravity door which is mounted by a cord connected with a fusible link which is directly over the machine. Its not “mostly” a fireproof theatre though, but whenever a fire breaks out from a projection/film jam or an accident, the heat melts from a fusible link which would release the cords and close all openings, making it impossible for the fire or smoke to get out of its steel cage or booth. Speaking of the steel, the electric wires throughout the building are also placed in steel conduit pipes.
The Elite Theatre was notable for its ideal box office, with installations of a showy mirrored front, literally studded with plate glass mirrors making it a striking display. As the inside of the theatre fulfils all expectations surrounding by the exterior.
On May 19, 1926, the three theatres, the Academy Theatre, Orpheum Theatre, and the Elite Theatre, were taken over by the Great States chain under the owners of L. Sussman and the one-and-only Julius Lamm, the general manager to the Great States chain. This came shortly after the Academy Theatre being acquired by Geo K. Spoor while the Academy Theatre was still operating by Walter Woods, and the Elite Theatre being Frank Stehno.
On Christmas Day 1927, the famous Genesee Theatre opens all of its doors to all of Waukegan and Lake County, also by the Great States chain. Right at the time, Mr. Julius Lamm confined his managerial activities to the Academy Theatre, Elite Theatre, and the Orpheum Theatre, as a switcheroo has been made. Lamm placed former Elite Theatre operator Frank Stehno in the Academy Theatre where he assist Mr. Lamm by looking after affairs at the Academy Theatre, and Walter Woods, former Academy Theatre operator, takes the operation at the Elite Theatre. All four theatres were operated by the Great States chain. And as of Walter Woods taken over operation, the Elite Theatre was on its last legs.
On April 11, 1928, it was announced that the Elite Theatre will close its doors for the final time on April 14, 1928 in connection of a multiple updates to the nearby Orpheum Theatre which reopened on the Elite Theatre’s last day according to Lamm himself, and a new relocated Packington Meat Market store being announced in place. The original Packington store off of S. Genesee Street later closed its doors in connection to the new location. The Elite Theatre closed with Tim McCoy in “The Law of the Range” with no extra short subjects as its last attraction, as the Elite Theatre’s Kimball pipe organ and the original schedule for the Elite Theatre all shifted its way to the Orpheum Theatre. The Elite Theatre’s building was then razed afterward and the Packington Meat Market store was constructed in the same spot later on.
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