Washington Theater, Quincy, Illinois

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PROJECT DETAILS

The Restoration

The History

Visitors' Stories

 

View floor plans for the restored Theater!

1st Floor

2nd Floor

3rd Floor

 

History

Built in 1924
Pete Pinkelman and Albert Cory, the original owners of the Washington Theater, had hoped the facility would be ready for Easter Sunday of 1924. Although this was not possible, the theater received its first audience of over 5000 patrons on June 19, 1924.

The theater was designed by either E.P. Rupert or Rueben Levin, architects from Chicago, who reportedly had the idea for the theater when enjoying a visit to Washington Park on a Sunday afternoon in July of 1921. Following this vision of a beautiful theater fronting Washington Park, the construction of the building began on October 1, 1923.

The façade of the theater was constructed of brick with glazed terra cotta ornamentation in the Mediterranean Revival style. It is a beautiful building and listed as a contributing structure for the Quincy Downtown National Register of Historic Structures District.

The theater originally could seat 1480 patrons who could enjoy the “mighty Wurlitzer” pipe organ and gaze at the beautiful fire curtain featuring a picture of George Washington.

Remodeled in 1926
Following the purchase of the theater by Balaban & Katz, the structure was remodeled to better accommodate the needs of patrons and performers. The improvements included lowering the stage 14 inches for better visibility, installing a Typhoon or swamp cooling system to keep the temperature at an even 70 degrees, adding two exits onto Hampshire Street, redecorating the lobby and auditorium, replacing the dressing rooms for the actors and actresses, and installing new lighting for the stage. The theater continued to host vaudeville acts with a live orchestra and photoplays, including “The Brown Derby” with “The Lights of New York” playing as Quincy's first talking picture show.

Sold in 1971
Kerasotes Theater purchased the Washington Theater on October 1, 1971. The Kerasotes chain operated the theater as a movie house until September 30, 1982. Shortly after closing the theater, Kerasotes donated the structure to the City of Quincy. Sunwest Corporation acquired the theater in the late 80's through a contract arrangement with the City. The Sunwest Corporation made substantial improvements to the storefront and basement space. Unfortunately, the auditorium has been neglected and used only for storage. The City regained possession of the theater in 2000.

706 Maine Street, 3rd Floor, Quincy, IL 62301

Call - 217.228.4515

Content Copyright 2003-2013, Washington Theater Redevelopment Commission

 


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