Teatro del Lago

1515 Sheridan Road,
Wilmette, IL 60091

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DavidZornig on January 7, 2018 at 11:24 am

Plaza Del Lago recently sold for $48 million.


Mister_Comics on September 25, 2017 at 3:26 pm

In 1945 this area was still being referred to as “No Man’s Land” in newspaper ads for this theatre. You can see this in the ad I posted in the “Photos” section.

DavidZornig on July 18, 2017 at 7:52 am

The property is now up for sale.


DavidZornig on October 3, 2016 at 5:20 pm

November 1964 photo added, photo credit John McDonough. Photo and other memorabilia added courtesy of the Wilmette Historical Museum. Items are on display there.

DavidZornig on December 23, 2014 at 8:24 am

I added a 1939 photo and 1929 announcement to the Photos Section. Here also is an expandable Flickr link with a 1962 Tribune history of the Teatro Del Lago. Copy & Paste.


pswiderski on January 6, 2013 at 3:54 pm

I am a big fan of the the theatre pipe organ. The Teatro Kimball organ was the first pipe organ I ever saw “in the flesh.” I have fond memories of listening and seeing the organ while my brother and a few others played it. It wasn’t a fancy organ, but there is always a special place in one’s heart for the first. I believe that Jim Walgreen removed the organ. I had recently seen pictures of it in the home of the owner at the time, which seemed like somewhere in the upper mid west. It was for sale at the time, but I don’t know what happened to it since then.

jenkyt on November 13, 2011 at 5:40 pm

Just posted a new photo for this theater of a lobby card from 1933. Not sure what to do with it so I posted it here.

dsteinschneider on October 21, 2010 at 9:10 pm

I have found memories of listening to 45’s in the booths at Paul’s Record Shop. I was only 10 when we moved from Robsart Road which was across the street (closed off at 10th street). The Teatro was an unforgetable structure. I agree with other poster genky that the area was a paradise for kids. I remember riding our bikes at age 8, 9 and 10 all over town. We moved east in 1965 so I wasn’t there for it’s demolition.

Johnmcd on June 26, 2010 at 3:46 pm

If anyone care to see anuy photos of the Teatro, I short a number in the late 50 and early 60s, inlcuding Stan Pratt, Sam Meyers, and the lonel;y painting of Rock Hudson hanging in the attic. Contact me at:

kencmcintyre on November 5, 2008 at 6:58 pm

From a Chicago Tribune article dated 11/1/64:

The Teatro theater in Wilmette will be razed in February, said its new owner Plato Foufas.

pleary on July 10, 2008 at 12:40 pm

As curator of the Wilmette Historical Museum, I’m so glad to have all of these wonderful memories recorded here; I’ve learned a lot from them, and have printed them out to add to our reference files. If anyone has photos or other memorabilia about the Teatro, or for that matter about Wilmette, we’d love to hear from you. Our website is at http://www.wilmettehistory.org) Incidentally, we recently learned that the Teatro’s old Kimball organ was rescued and is now in the hands of a collector who is restoring it.

One small correction to the info in the heading: the Teatro opened in the spring of 1927, not 1926, and closed on September 10, 1965. It was torn down early in 1966.

alcfetz on September 15, 2007 at 12:56 pm

Mary, I would be happy to share 2 pictures of the Teatro Del Lago with you. One I took of the ticket taker at his post when I worked there in 1960. Can’t remember his name. I think he worked there forever. Send me your email address at and I will foreward them to you.

MaryVallelonga on September 15, 2007 at 1:19 am

Have enjoyed reading all your posts….even though I did not discover you until waaaaaay after the fact. I too grew up in Wilmette. I am the third oldest of nine. All of your stories brought me back to a time that I still cherish so many years later. I lived in Wilmette in the late 1940’s until 1969. We lived at 901 Linden and then 830 Oakwood Avenue. I am hoping to find a picture of the Teatro del Lago. Any suggestions??? I remember Leo also. Did not know his last name. I really appreciated hearing his story. Can’t go past 4th and Linden without remembering him even so many years later. Hope all of you will continue to share your memories with all of us. Very cool! Mary
posted by Mary Burback Vallelonga on Sep 15, 2007 at 1:16am

Broan on January 4, 2007 at 5:43 pm

Some tidbits from the Tribune archives….
Ann-Margret apparently had her professional singing debut here, in a Radio broadcast.

The article marking the theater’s next-day closure printed September 9, 1965 notes that in addition to Hudson and Ann-Margret, former Senator Charles H. Percy served as an usher. English music hall star Gracie Fields also performed there in war bond drives. The article also claims that Meyers built some 22 theaters in Chicagoland, though his name is scarcely mentioned elsewhere. This must be in reference to the fact that he was director of Allied Theaters of Illinois, a syndicate of independent theaters.

A 1962 article claims, “Meyers had traveled to Paris in 1926 to meet with Claude Neon, an inventor. Neon explained the principles of neon lighting. Meyers arranged for the inventor to create the first neon theater sign for the proposed moving picture theater which would be built fronting Lake Michigan between Wilmette and Kenilworth.” It also identifies Spanish Court as one of the first shopping centers in America (along with Market Square in Lake Forest). It further states that in 1925 Meyers hired the young Vincente Minelli to design and decorate the theater, and that Meyers also intoduced a ‘first’ of special concert programs in the 1940s featuring the likes of Marlo Lanza, Rise Stevens, and Madame Shuman-Heink to the stage. Meyers was still further credited with starting the first Cub Scout pack in America, the Del Lago Cubs, in 1927.

Broan on May 28, 2006 at 10:31 am

Architect was Edwin H. Clark.

PDS on May 15, 2006 at 1:44 am

I was born in Evanston, and I spent most of my childhood on the North Shore of Chicago. I’ve got fond memories of the Teatro, where I spent many Saturday afternoons and evenings when I lived in Wilmette and Kenilworth. Several of my favorite memories at the Teatro include “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” “Charade,” and the film musicals “State Fair” and “Bye Bye Birdie” (Ann-Margret lived in Wilmette, and graduated from New Trier High School in 1959). I always enjoyed the special Saturday matinees, which would usually feature science fiction hits of the ‘50s and early '60s (“The War of the Worlds” and “The Time Machine” were most popular and shown often). “Roman Holiday” was the last film shown at the Teatro. The Teatro was a beautiful movie palace. They don’t make 'em like that anymore!

I’ve enjoyed reading all the posts here. Ah, the memories!

MovieMgr on April 30, 2006 at 8:44 am

I grew up in Winnetka, 1950-1958 and spent many wonderful Saturday afternoons not only at the Theatro but at the Glencoe and at the Community House in Winnetka. Little did I know that I would spend about ten years of my life managing movie theatres (see my comment under Rockhill in Kansas City). The 50’s, we were young and life was good, and so were the films. Wonderful memories.

PeterEnchelmayer on September 26, 2005 at 9:44 am

Sarah – – Thanks for writing. My brother Paul introduced me to this website a few months ago and the walk down memory lane has been fun whenever I return. So well do I remember San Pedro’s and all the rest of Spanish Court. San Pedro’s was a place our grandparents took us little Enchelmayer kids back in the mid-50’s. The aromas upon entering were so inviting, and whatever we ordered was always a real treat. Your recently posted comments about CREATIVE COOKERY caused us to reflect back on wonders of that show. The fine food from that show on TV was a dream for us kids raised on Chef Boy-Ar-Dee, even if we had a rare, occasional meal back on old Spanish Court. Thanks again for the memories. – – Pete Enchelmayer, 9/26/2005; 3:40pm

SStran on August 5, 2005 at 1:08 pm

I loved the times my parents took me to San Pedro’s when I was a child. Their varied menu was unlike any other restaurant around our area, and from the start I loved trying foods not cooked at our apt. in Spanish Court: from San Pedro’s I learned in later years with common sense and experiment to make the chilled jelled borscht which first entranced me among the varied menu options, and the pecan loaf, a meatless roast (before vegan times) served with a lucious mushroom sauce: heavenly! I also loved the cold asparagus and lettuce vinaigrette. These dishes were so in synch with the TV program I watched, as a little girl, on our old Admiral b/w TV: “Creative Cookery”, hosted by Antoinette and Francoise Pope. As far as I know, that was the first cooking show on the tube.
I have been so sorry these years that the San Pedro restaurant is gone. The one that takes its place is all right, but doesn’t have the same “flavor” at all!
Current residents who weren’t here in the past don’t know what they are missing!

JoanKelly on August 5, 2005 at 4:47 am

My uncle, Bill Bruns, owned the San Pedro Restaurant across from the Teatro Del Lago. My father, George King was one of the managers of the Teatro when it first was built in the 30’s until the 50’s. I was an usherette in the 40’s. My brother and sister-in-law were very good friends with Rock Hudson(Roy Fitzgerald as we all grew up in Winnetka. I was very good friends with Nancy Pratt, Stan’s first wife. I know Jim Pratt when he was a very little guy. Wow, what memories this brings back. I knew Stan, Sam and Jenny Meyers well. I guess this really dates me.
Submitted by Joan King Kelly

rsjacobs on July 22, 2005 at 3:51 am

Bob Jacobs, Sam Meyers' nephew, worked with Stan Pratt in the early 1950s while he was going to college. He lived at 946 Spanish Court. In 1956 he met his future wife, Joan, at the Teatro and in 1957 they were married. They first lived at 946 Spanish Court and then in the apartment complex on the corner of 10th Street and Spanish Court. Besides the Teatro del Lago, Sam Meyers also owned the Wilmette Theater and the Glencoe Theater. The Teatro was a self-contained building, having its own electrical power and air-conditioning that was cooled by water from a deep well under the theater.
Submitted by Joan Jacobs

SStran on May 24, 2005 at 4:01 pm

Sure! Peacock’s “Dairy Bar”…gum under the counters and all!

BobM on May 23, 2005 at 9:30 pm

Wow – what great posts! I remember Leo, and I’m sorry to hear that he’s pass on. My first “real” job after college was at the Evanston bank, and I lived at Dad’s house for a while – I would drive over to the El to go to work and there would be Leo. Also, I remember him from all of the Cubs games my brother and I would go to (you know, in ‘67 before they fouled up baseball with these silly divisions and the Cubs moved to first place for real for a while).

I also fondly remember that I used to love to ride my bike around the “block” at Chestnut when I was a kid (yeah, crossed Green Bay road, etc. – man, would mom get mad!). It took forever! In fact, Frank, I’m curious – I won’t post a last name, but are you from a large family that lived in a nice house on the north side of Chestnut? If so, I remember playing a lot of softball on the side lawn with you guys (and you all gave me a hard time for going to Catechism class on Sundays while you all went to St. Francis during the week).

And Paul’s records! Wow – he used to be on Wilmette Ave. across from the Encyclopedia Britannica building before he went down to the Teatro area (or do I have that backwards? – having a brother ten years older and going everywhere with him in the summer sometimes messes up the details). Real nice, always helpful to me when I was getting albums for mom and dad for Christmas (hey, no guessing any sizes that way).

Finally, wasn’t there a Peacock’s in the del Lago area? For those of us that used to go to Homer’s for shakes, malts, and such, Peacock’s was like sneaking off to date someone else – a little different, even disloyal in a way.

SStran on May 19, 2005 at 8:00 pm

For those who’d like to know the history of Leo Elbaum, here it is. My source material is from The Wilmette Life (Thursday, March 11, 1999) in an article about him (“Leo leaves his newsstand at CTA depot”) upon the closure of the old 4th & Linden station house and opening of the new one just east of it. Here is an abridged transcript with a comment or two from me:

“In the fast-paced evolution of modern retail, many specialty stores and strip malls come and go in a matter of months. Others stick around for a decade or more. A very few go on to become institutions.

“If ever a small business earned that distinction, Leo Elbaum and his newwstand in the CTA station, current and former, at Fourth Street and Linden Avenue, Wilmette, certainly qualifies.

“Through the better part of four decades, eight presidents, and a seven-day work-week that often amounted to double shifts, Elbaum was the first friendly face that many commuters and neighborhood residents saw. The one-man kiosk was the source of newspapers, magazines, cigarettes and friendly greetings for CTA train riders as well as neighbors picking up the weekend edition.

“Now the institution is gone, a darkened, locked space at the train station with a hand-written sign announcing his departure.

“The 85-year-old Elbaum has since retired to his Skokie home.

“In a brief telephone interview, Elbaum said only that he didn’t want to quit working.

“‘I am trying to get somewhere else. I like to work,” Elbaum said in a raspy voice.

“Both his long career and his personal history show Elbaum to be a survivor in the largest sense of the word. Born in Poland, he came of age just as the Nazis invaded and ultimately shuttled him to a concentration camp, where he stayed until liberation in 1948.

“With only one close relative, a sister, remaining, he came to the United States in 1951. He opened his business in Wilmette in 1963, selling newspapers the week President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, according to a 1990 Wilmette Life feature.”——(NOT TRUE – date is WRONG——I remember Leo from when I was a little tot in the early 1950s when my Dad would take me downtown for a day at his office at 620 N. Michigan Ave., and Dad would buy candy or a comic book from Leo for me before we got on the el!)

“Although none of his earliest regulars seem to remain in the neighborhood, (oh yeah? what about me, who spent all that time going to the School of the Art Inst. during the 80s in persuit of my Master’s degree and taking the el back then, and Leo saying on very cold January mornings as I bought a pack of smokes, "Your hands will be so cold – don’t you have gloves?” as he put his hands on mine while I assured him I had gloves in my coat pocket, and in the 90s when I’d go downtown with a friend?) some of his long-time acquaintances remember Elbaum as a hard-working businessman who did things his own way.

“Donald Olson, who opened his State Farm Insurance office neaby 28 years ago, recalled that Elbaum had bought his original stand (at) the old el station. It was there that he did his best business.

“‘He bought that stand from a guy named Harry. He did a tremendous newspaper business, and he had a lot of books. If he didn’t have it, he’d get it for you. He was the Barnes and Noble of the neighborhood,’ Olson said.
(Leo saved for me the last regular issue of Life Magazine (1972)).

“As the sole operator, Elbaum also held himself to hours that no hired help would have tolerated. He usually arrived at 6:00am and often stayed until 9 or 9:30pm and kept weekend hours with infrequent breaks and almost no extended leaves.

“‘I remember Leo taking maybe two vacations in 26 years,’ Olson said.

“Through some mix of long hours and a good location, the shop was apparently good to him, helping put a son and a daughter through college.

“Olson said he sensed Elbaum’s business suffered somewhat in more recent years after he moved into the new station east of the old depot. Changing commuter patterns might have played a role, and the newsstand also seemed to attract more than its share of shoplifters.

“‘Once he moved over here, it kind of fell apart. It was harder for people to get into here and it kind of lost its mystique. I think what he lost was the neighborhood traffic,’ Olson said.

“For better and worse, Elbaum was an active and accommodating entrepreneur.

“His vision of free enterprise was, at times, a bit broader than the authorities would tolerate. His store was reputedly a destination for teens hoping to buy cigarettes, and Elbaum several years ago faced a citation for firework sales.

“Olson keeps his memories of Elbaum in perspective.

“‘He wasn’t a saint, but I like him for what he was. He was an old wheeler-dealer. He was a legend and now he’s gone.’

“CTA officials said the agency is seeking proposals and has not yet identified a new vendor for the newsstand space. Both a nationally known coffee chain and donut shop have been mentioned as possibilites.

“Elbaum said he plans to go back to work and promised to announce his new location when he finds it.

Leo Elbaum passed away a few years after this article was printed.

alcfetz on May 19, 2005 at 7:39 am

The top of this page shows the seating capacity at 1190. Bryan researched and came up with 500. Let me throw my 2 cents in. When I worked at the Teatro as an usher in 1959, the boredom of the job was at times overwhelming. I remember being stationed inside the seating area one Sunday afternoon and decided to count the seats. I remember counting 725 on the first floor and around 150 in the balcony. Please don’t ask why I remember that. I have no answer.