Kerasotes Theatres

Gus Kerasotes in theater projection room (Sangamon Valley Collection)

Gus, left, and Louis Kerasotes examining a new projector in the Strand Theater in 1933.  (Photo from the Sangamon Valley Collection; information provided by Mike Kerasotes, grandson of Gus.)

A candy-store-turned nickelodeon in Springfield was the starting point for what for a time was the sixth-largest theater chain in the U.S.

Brothers Gus  (1873-1960)  and Louis Kerasotes, both Greek immigrants, converted Gus’s confectionery at 214 S. Sixth St. into the Royal theater in 1909.  The brothers opened the Savoy three years later, and the Strand, which offered the first organ accompaniment for silent films, went into business in 1921. Kerasotes bought the Gaiety theater in the 500 block of East Monroe Street in 1929 and renamed it the Senate.  Sons George, John, Nicholas and Louis all joined the company in following years.

George Gus Kerasotes, right, son of Gus Kerasotes,presents Doris Day with the 1961 Star of the Year award from the Theatre Owners of America. (Contributed by Mike Kerasotes)

George Gus Kerasotes, left, son of Gus Kerasotes, presents Doris Day with the 1961 Star of the Year award from the Theatre Owners of America. George Kerasotes founded the TOA. (Contributed by Mike Kerasotes)

Kerasotes Theatres first expanded into small and middle-sized communities in Illinois, then moved into Missouri and Indiana. More aggressive growth in the 1970s made the chain the ninth-largest in the country by the early 1980s. A family split in 1985 — George established his own chain, GKC Theatres — slowed the parent firm’s expansion only slightly.

Kerasotes Theatres’ headquarters was at Sixth and Washington streets, in a building Gus had constructed in 1926, until 1999, when grandsons Tony and Dean moved the company’s base of operations to Chicago.

“We … needed to beef up our corporate structure, and the center of finance, legal, and the ability to attract qualified management professionals was in Chicago,” Dean Kerasotes told Film Journal, which published a lengthy profile of the Kerasotes chain for its centennial in 2009.

By its 100th anniversary, however, Kerasotes Showplace Theatres had less than a year of independence left. Movie giant AMC bought Kerasotes Showplace for an undisclosed amount in January 2010. At the time, Kerasotes had 96 theaters with 973 screens.

Tony Kerasotes said when the sale took place that a private equity firm, Providence Equity Partners, that had invested in the chain had decided to cash out its interest. The Kerasotes family was unable to find a replacement investor that would have allowed to family to continue to operate its theaters, he said. (George Kerasotes’ GKC chain also had been taken over by then; it was purchased by Carmike Cinemas Inc. in 2005.)

Although Kerasotes no longer is in the Springfield theater business, the family is still prominently remembered via the Gus and Flora Kerasotes YMCA branch, which opened in 2011 on West Iles Avenue.bridge

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6 Responses to Kerasotes Theatres

  1. Pingback: George Gus Kerasotes my father President and Founder of TOA Theatre Owners of America presenting The Star of The Year Awards to Miss Doris Day, Jerry Lewis, and John Wayne by George’s son Mike Kerasotes. | kerasotes

  2. Pingback: “”my notes to the sangamon landmarking historical society” “Copyright (c) 2015 by kerasotes”” | kerasotes

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  4. Michael Patrick Kerasotes says:

    Here is some history of me and my family.

    I’d like it up to date and corrected.

    I would.

    But I don’t know if I have that much life left in me.

    I shall try and get it up to date.

    Thank you!

    Kindest regards, Michael Patrick Kerasotes

    May 9, 2019 a Thursday Evening

    ;-)’s = a wink. !

  5. Michael Patrick Kerasotes says:

    I have been writing and looking for photos for you all for our family.

    Would you like me to send some of the writing and some of the photos that you don’t seem to have on your page about our family – it is the story my grandmother Flora told me and my deceased brother about how the 3 girls had to hide under the back porch or veranda in Sparta when the Germans and the Turks hung the whole family many times … They hid under there to save their lives. All across the back of their hotel were their parents and grandparents and grand relatives because my great great great grandfather was head of the Army of Greece 🇬🇷 and the Germans and the Turks wanted him and my family wiped out of existence.

    Flora, the youngest, Alice, the middle girl child and my great aunt Golfo each told me this. I was requested to go to Sparta again in 1962, by Golfo,The Eldest. She could only speak Greek and I had 12 years in school studying ancient,classical and modern Greek, so, we could communicate the different types of stories and things that happened because of who they were.

    One was about when the Turks came to find the missing relatives, so, they had a cave in the mountains with an olive tree and other fruits and foods to get from nature and stay alive and hidden for 3 or months at a time – those 3 little girls.

    Let me know,
    Kindest Regards,
    Michael Patrick Kerasotes
    17 May 2019

  6. Dear People: Can you go to my Facebook Page the site is down below. Go into my Pictures and you will find all the other things I want you to have. I’ve Even Created a New Page but it isn’t finished yet. You can read on my “Michael” Page all the posts I have spent hours working on that tell the story of my family and how you’ve helped me landmark things and more history from the stuff Wikipedia took out that I took photographs of yesterday and entered on my Michael Patrick Kerasotes Page of Facebook and copy those for they are for you. They tell the story better about us that what the other Kerasotes wrote and I think it is more important that you know my father built up the business than my cousins did before they threw him out and stole all his theatres and claimed them for their own.

    I don’t know how to get the photos to you so this is all I can think of.

    Kindest Regards,

    me

    Michael Patrick Kerasotes on Monday 5/20//2019

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