Arcola Theatre

116-118 N. Locust Street,
Arcola, IL 61910

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Arcola Theatre

This large theatre was built sometime after 1897, but before 1905, when it appears in that year’s Cahn guide, from which the capacity is taken.

The structure was a broad two-story brick building with a large square stage tower at the rear. It was definitely showing movies by no later than 1923, when the Sanborn map notes that it also offered ‘occasional vaudeville’.

It had closed by 1933 when the new Ritz Theatre opened (it has its own page on Cinema Treasures). By the late-1960’s or early-1970’s the Arcola Theatre building had been replaced by the unattractive city hall located on the site.

Contributed by Seth Gaines

Recent comments (view all 1 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 25, 2023 at 6:56 am

The Arcolan Theatre and Olympian Theatre are both listed in the 1914-1915 American Motion Picture Directory.

Konrad Schiecke’s Historic Movie Theatres in Illinois says that the Ritz Theatre in Arcola opened as the Arcola Theatre in 1928, so that was probably the last year in which this house operated, at least under that name.

The 1928 FDY lists the 800 seat Arcola (almost certainly this house) and a “New” theater with no capacity listed, and the 1929 edition lists the Arcola with 400 seats (the capacity of the later Ritz) and a house called the Empress, with no capacity listed, but it was probably the old Arcolan/Arcola renamed. Like many smaller towns Arcola vanishes from the 1930 FDY, but it is back with the 400-seat Arcola and the Empress (no capacity listed, but marked as a silent house) in 1931. From 1932 on only the Arcola (or Ritz) is listed.

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