Category Archives: Theaters

Springfield Muni Opera

The Springfield Muni Opera’s earliest ancestor was a play named “Good News,” performed by the Springfield Municipal Choir at Lanphier Park on July 28, 1938. But today’s outdoor community musical theater more accurately dates from a presentation of “Bye Bye … Continue reading

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Esquire theater

Springfield’s Esquire theater opened in late 1937 via an unusual alliance between two central Illinois  movie chains. Kerasotes Theaters of Springfield and Frisina Amusement Corp., founded in Taylorville, had almost simultaneously announced plans to build separate “suburban” theaters within a … Continue reading

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The potato matinee of 1925

The “potato matinee” of Christmas 1925 was the brainchild of longtime local theater manager Harry Thornton. It quickly went awry, the victim of its own success. Illinois State Journal editor/publisher J. Emil Smith, a friend of Thornton’s, heard the potato … Continue reading

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Chatterton Opera House

The Chatterton Opera House at the southeast corner of Sixth and Jefferson streets was for nearly a half-century Springfield’s principal venue for stage entertainments of all kinds, and a major stop for national touring companies, recitalists, and speakers. The theater … Continue reading

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Robert Rudolph

Robert Rudolph (1824-68) was a master brewer who came into his fortune when he married Rosa Kun, the widow of Rudolph’s former employer, Andrew Kun, in 1864. Two years later, the Rudolphs built a lavish Italianate mansion at 511 W. … Continue reading

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Kerasotes Theatres

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 … Continue reading

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The Orpheum Theatre

The Orpheum Theatre in the 100 block of North Fifth Street was Springfield’s preeminent movie palace from 1927 to 1965. It was demolished to make way for expansion by the Illinois National Bank. The theater, with a spectacular Art Deco … Continue reading

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