Zoe Theatre

209 N. Madison Street,
Pittsfield, IL 62363

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DavidZornig on June 29, 2020 at 11:49 pm

Additional history credit Lisa Ruble. “Zoe Theatre in Pittsfield was named after Clark’s granddaughter Zoe Armentrout (1929-1992). Zoe was the daughter of Russell, Clark’s son, who was also involved with the theatres.” 1960 image added.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 3, 2018 at 2:07 am

The September 23, 1950, issue of Boxoffice said that the Zoe Theatre had been opened by the Armentrout Circuit. Some of the houses in the circuit were called the Clark Theatre, after founder Clark Armentrout. This house was named for Clark’s granddaughter Zoe, daughter of Russell Armentrout.

stingwicki on February 13, 2017 at 4:33 pm

My former organization Two Rivers Regional Council procured funding and helped move the Theater through the designation process. Although this should have paved the way for funding and redevelopment opportunities, it appears the theater condition has not seen any progress since 2012.

Stephen Holowicki

Roger Katz
Roger Katz on February 12, 2013 at 10:11 pm

The photos lostmemory posted from 1985 refute the assertion that the Zoe closed in 1982. A recent newspaper article about the Zoe being named to the National Register of Historic Places states that the theatre closed in 1987.

dawn2394 on September 8, 2012 at 2:31 am

Actually the Zoe Theatre was still open on November 13th 1981 because my future husband and I seen Endless Love there. It closed sometime after 1981.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on June 18, 2010 at 2:50 pm

Good Luck,Zoe Preservaion Society.Some good stories to read.

CSWalczak on June 18, 2010 at 1:07 pm

A new, local group has formed, the Zoe Preservation Society, which has launched efforts to fully restore the Zoe. Their first step is to restore the marquee which they hope to accomplish by Christmas, 2010. Story here: View link

route66sue on July 20, 2009 at 8:09 pm

I live near Pittsfield and used to drive by the Zoe every time I was in town. I haven’t went by it in about 6 months or so as it just continues to sit empty. Maybe I should check it out and see how the restoration is coming (??).
If I had the money I would buy the theater myself and fix it up to be a working theater again.
I don’t believe you need surveys and all to see what the public wants as the proof is down the highway at the Clark 54 Drive In in Summer Hill. The owner continues to make improvements each season.
The City of Quincy had every committee possible “consulting” on the Washington Theater and now I hear it has been sold. I recent drive by the old Washington Theater shows it in worse shape then when they first took it over. Maybe I just don’t understand, but less talk, more action…the Zoe can still be saved if it just happens.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on May 14, 2009 at 12:01 pm

Doorway and aluminum ladder are a nice touch.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on March 1, 2006 at 7:27 pm

Good lord. I can’t even read to the end of this thing…a nice piece of writing I would bet was crafted by Paul himself.

Still no news on the Zoe Theatre.

Patrick: doesn’t THIS violate your terms of use?!?

FreeBird on December 26, 2005 at 4:42 pm

Here is a link to the scandalous article written by Ms. Brenda Bowen and published June 30, 2005, and mentioned above. It’s available on the Annoyance Theater website, another company who has really lived up to their name, “Annoyance” in going out of their way to hurt Mr. Warshauer. Better click it soon before Annoyance strikes again! and annoys with changing the URL.


FreeBird on December 26, 2005 at 4:21 pm

In my dealings with Paul Warshauer, he has always paid upfront, in advance, or right on time. I’ve been working with him for several years now and find these accusations malicious and untrue. These slanderous articles are absolute nonsense and I am aghast that such accusations are given large headlines, while the real truth, which clearly finds Paul Warshauer innocent of any and all wrong-doing, is left to the wind. Paul has been very generous with his time, his knowledge and his spirit. There are lots of people in show business, and in the world, who would take advantage of a situation crafted and created by the hard work of Paul Warshauer and his partners. Paul Warshauer’s mind is gold to anyone interested in restoring an old theater. Why tackle a project as massive as theater restoration when you can hire an expert like Paul Warshauer and Grande Venues, Inc.?

Talk is cheap; and obviously with Paul Warshauer the proof is in the pudding: he has the initiative and the know-how to get these projects off the shelves and into people’s minds and activities—-if you think there is any merit to these allegations against him, then still you must admit that he is obviously doing something right when these restoration projects gain enough momentum to have to stop. You don’t ever hear about the successful projects. Paul doesn’t really need to brag about his success. No, you don’t hear of the successes. What you hear is shady journalism with prejudiced tones.

Brenda Bowen of PJStar.com should be fired from her job for severely lacking journalistic integrity and sued for defamation of character in the public forum. Of all people, our journalists need to adhere to strict, objective positions. An article written by Ms. Bowen written on June 30, 2005 surrounding the business dealings of Mr. Warshauer, nevermind that she failed to publish the complete story, included statements that, although they were incomplete and misleading, served a purpose of a supporting a predetermined objective which in this case slanders the character of Mr. Paul Warshauer.

Nevermind that it was clearly a very simple, meniacal and hurtful attempt at writing an article to slander Paul Warshauer and a blatant disregard the journalistic integrity some journalists dedicate their lives to. Nevermind that she mentioned nothing about the actions of the other parties involved in these lawsuits which may have brought them to be, or that she used text to take deals that never closed and turn them into an examination of Mr. Warshauer’s character.

Nevermind that to Ms. Bowen it’s may just be a simple little article and maybe even a favor for a friend, or a “great scoop,” one of those “journalistic gems” that come around once in a lifetime to uncover a bad guy and expose his crimes to the world, protecting others from their predatory business practices. To Ms. Bowen it might have even been her little “Havana Watergate.” Nevermind that she’s probably forgotten about writing that “simple little article.” Ms. Bowen might make a paycheck by writing these little articles, some people can go hungry because of them, even though I know Paul Warshauer would never let himself go without shelter or food, no matter who tries to stop him.

Although Ms. Bowens has the enormous responsibility of upholding the public trust, she seems to carelessly abuse her power to write a dramatic story. She seems to abuse that microphone to the world habitually, in an off-the-cuff manner, for her own personal gain. Nevermind that while for Ms. Bowen her desire to have a little “Havana Watergate” sacrifices the very way in which Paul Warshauer MAKES A LIVING. The objective is simple: BLAME PAUL WARSHAUER. It seems that if Ms. Bowen is so ready to sacrifice someone else’s integrity for a step up the journalistic ladder, then she is an example of everything that is wrong with America. What’s next for Ms. Bowen?

Facts are one thing, Ms. Bowen; manipulating text to degrade a human being and endanger his business is a violation of the highest degree of journalistic integrity and should be dealt with. Maybe she should slander the town mayor; then she would certainly feel the repercussions of her actions. She uses her pen quite readily to slash at Mr. Warshauer, but hardly to defend his character.

Even when Ms. Bowen quotes Mr. Warshauer, she manages to skew the text to raise doubt about the integrity of Mr. Warshauer’s character. She certainly never uses her pen to show how capable he really is of doing a restoration. She didn’t publish anything about restoring the theater in Havana, or what would be done with it, or materials the theater in Havana needed once the project was up and running, who knows if she even bothered to ask! That’s because the article focused on raising doubt upon the character and integrity of Paul Warshauer, blaming him as a reason for the failure of the project. When you start with that objective, you create an article like hers.

There is no question she did not publish the full story, whether intentionally or unintentionally, and in fact she published statements that do nothing but raise doubts about the integrity of Paul Warshauer. It appears the project did not move forward at that time because of a lack of resources. In this article did she once openly and directly address that the missing factor in this equation was money and collateral? No.

She let’s that detail come through in two or three brief quotes and then spins them to raise doubts about the integrity of Paul Warshauer’s character. Did she ask him about what it takes to restore a theater? She certainly didn’t publish anything to that regard. Does she, for instance, even know that the people on the board at the Uptown who will not give their names, who likely would be sued, also probably tried to salvage their own personal reputation by not giving their name? She quotes people in the article, who were simply taking paychecks from the non-profit company without producing results, and turns THEIR quote around to raise suspicion of Paul Warshauer.

Did she know how delinquent the board members were, one of whom she quoted? Did she question their dedication to the project? Did she know they were essentially a sitting duck board? That they were behaving as if being paid were their sole responsibility as leaders of its board, unaware of what it really means for a human being to be PRODUCTIVE with a goal of ACCOMPLISHING THE MISSION or ESTABLISHED OBJECTIVES of the company. Because if they were aware of it and were capable of doing it then they would have. But they didn’t do anything until Paul came around, and when the deal started getting serious that balked. Now they blame Paul. And Ms. Bowen, unfortunately, did not seem to question or produce results or mention she was working hard to get the real truth. And, unfortunately, she did not have the gumption to realize that she violated journalistic integrity by slandering Paul Warshauer so one-sidedly.

Maybe it was personal. Maybe she didn’t like his cologne, or his choice of entree. I don’t know if they’ve ever dined together or even met in person, but an article like the one published on June 30, 2005 shows that with journalists like Ms. Bowen writing articles, the American public is in trouble. We are vulnerable to the agenda of the individual journalist, whose mighty pens wreak havoc, lest we bow to them. Why would Ms. Bowen publish an article that so eloquently indirectly focuses on Mr. Warshauer’s former business dealings?

If we can’t trust our journalists for straight-forward, honest reporting about the news in the world around us, who can we look to? Ms. Bowen simply degraded the character of Paul Warshauer and apparently believes he is a problem. Paul Warshauer, currently with Grande Venues, Inc., is one of the MOST productive persons I know, and he is punished over and over again for his productivity by those people who cannot or do not understand or appreciate hard work, or journalists with an agenda. Paul is the quintessential catalyst for getting theater restoration projects DONE. He is a single mind that knows all of the pieces of the theater restoration puzzle and how to put them together RIGHT. Ms. Bowen tried to hurt Mr. Warshauer right where it counts: his trade.

Ms. Bowen should be fired, fined, sued or all of the above. In business, sometimes deals don’t come together. When the table falls, especially when politics are involved, damaged expectations almost REQUIRE finger pointing and a blame game, so as to save face. Everyone knows that when something doesn’t work you have to tie loose ends off, and in business many times it ends up in court. If the theater restoration is the talk of the town, and suddenly it doesn’t work, city leaders have to face angry townspeople and a PR campaign including Ms. Bowens is a sure-fire way for the city of Havana to place blame and move on, and hopefully win re-election.

And all the deal really needed was capital. All you have to say is that the money wasn’t there. People understand this basic fact: Sometimes the money isn’t there. Instead, they choose to place blame to protect themselves in a matter that really merits the city’s leaders and journalists coming together with a “can do” attitude. They needed to help create something like and spread the word about the biggest bake sale in the city’s history in the city park, to raise money to begin the theater’s restoration. The town would really come together, organize and create unique foods, manage the baked good production(can’t have everyone selling chocolate chip cookies.) Everyone donates to a good cause, and has an afternoon as a real community. Instead, Ms. Bowen veritably points her finger and sticks out her tongue.

You can’t make an omelette without eggs. You can’t make an old theater young again without capital. You need more capital for some things than others. Ms. Bowen published statements about the Havana theater followed by statements about the business the city was dealing with, or Grande Venues, Inc. and Paul Warshauer. Did she publish anything about the city? Did she research other projects the CITY has or hasn’t been able to put together? No. She blamed the other guy. All that the Havana theater deal needed was capital, and Ms. Bowen chose to use the piece to focus on slandering a man’s character.

The deal just needed capital. A little capital means architects, plans, permits, assessments and the opportunity to attract more capital. A lot of capital means renovations, buying supplies, cleaning crews, installation crews(electrical, heat, water, etc…) More capital means getting the theater running; passing municipal inspections and promoting operations. Paul knows what the standard need of any theater restoration is, and digs down to see what the specific theater really needs, from the community and from construction teams. Paul’s value is his mind. He’s also pretty funny and would rather enjoy his time than not enjoy it.

Paul Warshauer has more experience and know-how in the theater restoration business than 90% of the population and if you don’t believe me, talk to him for 30 minutes about some of his projects and what his ideas for restoration were, or propose a new project to him. After 30 minutes, although you’ll know right away, you’ll see his mind is like a computer, programmed for theater restoration, or whatever task he puts his mind to.

He knows, at any point during the theater restoration process, the 5W’s, something anyone in a leadership position can tell you is essential SOMEWHERE in the chain of production to create results. He knows What has to be done, Where it has to be done, Who has to do it, When it has to be done in relation to other steps of the restoration, and then finally not just Why it has to be done but How it can be done. Journalists like Ms. Bowen need to find a new line of work. If she tries theater restoration, she’d have a great teacher in Paul Warshauer. But maybe she should work on her journalistic integrity first.

Old theaters need more than age to be beautiful again; they need a mind like Paul Warshauer’s. They need the right plan and the right guy to put the project together and make it happen. Paul is very capable and very sensible. With the right resources, you’ll realize that one of the most important jewels in restoring old theatrical treasures is HIM. It’s time people stop blaming him and let him do his job.

Patrick Crowley
Patrick Crowley on November 2, 2005 at 5:50 pm

We’d like to remind everyone to keep the conversation here productive.

When posting a comment, please make sure your comment is informative, friendly, and free of personal attacks. If you fail to follow these guidelines (and our terms of use), your comment will be removed.

Due to recent activity, we’re also considering not allowing new comments on this theater. It would be a shame to take this step, but if people are unable to respect the rules of this open forum, we may be forced to take action.

Remember… we can only save theaters if we work together. ;)

Patrick Crowley
Co-founder, Cinema Treasures

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on October 11, 2005 at 7:37 pm


theatre is not listed as open. No web site for theatre. No positive news articles out there for theatre.

It has been many months now since Uncle Paul came to town. What has become of this vaunted “Arts Assessment?”

rroberts on September 26, 2005 at 12:59 pm

Goaway. Do you live in Pittsfield? Do you have anything to do with this project? Probably not as you are clearly misinformed. Mike Novelli wrote a complex arts assessment survey which we administered in Pittsfield months ago. We were paid a modest sum for an enormous amount of work. It is available at City Hall. Call the Economic Development Director of the city and find out if he liked our work. We proposed to assist a local developer to restore the theatre and are still working on it. Got any constructive suggestions to help us or do you just want to rant and cause trouble?

goaway on September 26, 2005 at 8:50 am

So how did that “Arts Assessment” go Paul? Let’s see…you took money from the town of Pittsfield, and asked residents probing questions like what their favorite films were and then after much thought-provoking analysis came up with the conclusion that YOUR COMPANY should become the developer for the theatre. Wow! Didn’t see THAT coming! You actually charged them money to tell them that your company should be the theatre developer. Good work!

rroberts on September 12, 2005 at 1:51 pm

Why is this article posted on this site? This is truly remarkable. So many “allegations and enemies.” Perhaps my story should be made into a movie starring say, Richard Dreyfus or Danny DeVito. Why bring up all this stuff on this specific site? It has very little to do with this theatre’s posting but what the heck. So much misinformation here. So many lies, but hey: this is America. Say what you like and don’t check your facts! Assassinate someone’s character while remaining anonymous but what the hell. It’s America. OK. Here’s a quick fact check for the people who really matter and proof you cannot always believe what you read in the newspapers or from what is written on these blogs. Mike Novelli is the President of GVI and had nothing to do with any of your allegations other than for the Wheaton, Zoe and Lawford Theatres. Leave him out of the rest or are you too ignorant to recognize that other corporations have come and gone without him. 1. GVI paid all workers at the Lawford Theatre in Havana except for two who are being investigated for theft. 2. We did NOT accept donation money at the Wheaton except for the outstanding fundraiser set up by Todd Plagman and many others for wounded veteran Sgt. Joel Gomez. This was a fundraiser that we all produced last January and audited then turned over ALL money to Community Bank. 3. I like smarter people than me because I learn from them. I don’t see to many on this site however. 4. I am proud that we sold calendars from the lobby of the Portage Park Theatre. No one else was helping us. (See many other postings about the Portage Park Theatre.) We returned everyone’s deposits, by the way, unlike the mess with the Annoyance Theatre company. I have accepted responsibility for the $4K debt personally as I have with the $5K debt for the Uptown Theatre, (Pales). 5. The Henslowe Group was not given the cease and desist order at the Portage. Our tenant, The Universal Church was issued the order for “building without a permit.” I had three partners there. Why don’t you hound them: Richard Pales, Kevin Miner and Jessica Deans. 6. I am a rather pleasant man who likes cigars, fun people, travel, the theatre and music, and lively discussions about politics and social issues with intelligent witty people.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on September 9, 2005 at 12:46 pm

The people of Pittsfield have known you for a matter of months. I think plenty of community groups have believed in you for that period of time. I will be curious to see what they think of you in two years. My guess is that this will turn into yet another fiasco.

I wouldn’t call myself armchair either. I’ve told you something about my involvement with historical buildings. As usual, you seem to be saying whatever comes to mind simply for effect.

goaway on September 9, 2005 at 6:22 am

I’m far from “armchair” you moron. And the work I do isn’t laced with scandal and legal disputes like those that follow your sorry self around. And you conveniently didn’t answer my questions, which I’m sure readers are dying to know. Why haven’t you paid the legal judgments against you? Do you consider yourself to be above the law? How you continue to find work amazes me. Oh, and my name is in your honor. Its what I sincerely hope that you’ll do. And very soon.

rroberts on September 8, 2005 at 5:26 pm

Goaway. Your name says it all. Try running a theatre. Try making a payroll. Try helping to restore one. Stop name calling and get to work on a project. You armchair jerks destroy this site. You disgust me. Go away!

goaway on September 8, 2005 at 2:01 pm

Well, nobody would ever accuse you of being meddlesome and troubled. By the way, when are you going to pay Annoyance Productions the remaining $3136.00 you owe them (http://www.annoyanceproductions.com/lawsuit.html)? You LOST a judgment against them in a court of law. Aren’t you legally obligated to pay that? Why are you suing other people when you yourself have outstanding judgments against you?

Wait, here’s another one: View link

That one’s for $5000!!! Have you paid that one yet Paul? Seems like someone needs to get their house in order.

rroberts on August 29, 2005 at 8:02 am

How sad that your search for the truth keeps you in Wheaton. We do not throw lawsuits and only bring action against those who wrong us. We don’t care about you; we just want to set the record straight. Come down here to Pittsfield and talk to the good people here. They like GVIs work. They paid us for our work. The people of Pittsfield are seeing the positive results of our work. They judge people for who they are, what they promise and then if they deliver on those pormises. We did. These folks do not judge people on internet gossip and lies that you continue to spread. People want their old theatres saved and need coaching, not big money that big shot consultants espouse. Calm down and stay on the websites you know about. These people do not know you. The people here are intelligent enough to know that you are a meddlesome troubled person who has an ax to grind. Goodbye.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on August 28, 2005 at 11:55 am

How stupid do you think I am Paul? It’s abundantly clear that you like to throw law suits at people. You want me to hand over my contact info? For what? So you can have this lawyer of yours serve me for attacking your character through my statements of opionion? Granted: the judge would laugh. But why should I deal with it? At best, if I called you, I would have to listen to you try and convince me that you are a respectable businessman…which is almost a lost cause at this point. Ray Shepardson, your competitor and a man you like to attack, has examples of theatre restoration success stories all over the internet. There are no positive news stories or grateful postings for the services of Paul Warshauer…the only people who seem to say nice things about you are those who have only known you for a few months.

rroberts on August 27, 2005 at 9:46 am

Dear Life’s Too Short: Many of us are misunderstood. You clearly are. We do not refuse to give valid documentation of our successes to qualified cities, organizations or individuals that request our services. We share our projects with the press, media, film makers, and lots of good people. By your tone, innuendo and lies, you clearly indicate that the internet is not the place to conduct business among civilized people. We have offered on numerous occasions to meet with you or talk on the phone to find out who you are and what irritates you so much that you continue to defame our company, my partner and me on multiple websites and postings. Have you no shame? We are DOING the work of saving theatres…are you??? We will share our “Arts Assessment” with you to prove that we are of value to cities like Pittsfield. Now come to your senses, leave your personal vendetta aside (why do you persist?) and let us get on with the business of helping old theatres come back to life. Take the challenge and call Mike Novelli on Monday: (630) 480-3345.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on August 25, 2005 at 8:18 pm

View link

So, are all these people liars too Paul? I swear, if you really are a model citizen, you are the most misunderstood man in history. It appears you like to sue people, which I could have guessed. And you wonder why I don’t want to give you my contact information? It really appears that you are the enemy here Paul. Legitimate businessmen don’t refuse to post references, they make them available on their official internet site. And if you had legitimate references, why would you give the Wheaton Grand Theatre as a reference to the media in the newspaper article you mention above. By all accounts, your work there was hardly a success.