LaVilla Theatre

540 N. Milwaukee Avenue,
Libertyville, IL 60048

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50sSNIPES on April 9, 2023 at 6:59 am

The LaVilla Theatre first opened its doors as the Auditorium Theatre on August 13, 1921 with Tom Moore in “Hold Your Horses” along with a two-reel mermaid comedy “A Fresh Start”. The theater opened on Red-Letter Day.

The Auditorium Theatre became the LaVilla Theatre in June 1929, and a couple of weeks after its name change, the then-manager of the LaVilla Theatre, Nathan Slepyan, announced the installation of both Vitaphone and Mastertone sound systems in July 1929. The sound was purchased from Richard Budd, the engineer of the Milwaukee-based Sound Reproducing Corporation.

Information about the installation and details on the LaVilla Theatre as of 1929 goes as follows: In the projection booth features non-synchronized projection, but in the rear of the LaVilla contains a double-channel amplification system that was installed during talkie-transition and in connection of its sound installment. Each of its projectors is attached a turntable but it supports a large disc record as well which comes with each reel of film. As the film feeds through the machine, tones are reproduced from the record carried by wire to the 400-seat capacity auditorium and resonated through two dynamic speakers set in six-foot squared baffleboards being located on each side of the screen. Its first talkie attraction was Dolores Costello in “The Glad Rag Doll” with no sign of selected short subjects on July 17, 1929.

The LaVilla’s flashing neon marquee is 22½ feet in length and 3½ feet wide, but during the talkies installation, it was extended 10 feet above the roof and the top of the sign has an installation of a large sunburst with each side containing 200 orange/amber bulbs. A double row of bulbs on either side of the sign contains a running green border, and the word “Talkie” in flashing orange/opel neon was also installed at the bottom of the sign.

A few years right after talkies were installed, special events were also held at the LaVilla Theatre sometimes but it was still a main movie house.

While the new Liberty Theatre (the second theater with the “Liberty Theatre” name in Libertyville) was still under construction in early 1937, the then-manager of the LaVilla, simply named Mr. Mikesell, cannot make up his mind on who should be owner of the “new” Liberty. He has five operators to choose left but ended up choosing Robert Coller as the manager of the Liberty.

The opening of the “New” Liberty Theatre forced the LaVilla Theatre to close for the final time on August 26, 1937 after 16 years and 13 days of operation.

LouRugani on February 25, 2019 at 8:41 pm

From the early 20th century, several theaters at one time or another served Libertyville: the Lyric Theatre, an earlier version of the Liberty Theatre, and the Auditorium Theatre. The immediate predecessor of the current Liberty Theatre was the LaVilla Theatre on the second floor of the First National Bank building. The LaVilla had only hardwood seating and a screen which would roll up when not in use. One can imagine this did not meet the standards that the movie-going public of Libertyville was coming to expect. Frederick William Dobe, born in Germany in 1873, had emigrated to the United States at age 19 in 1892, eventually settling down in Libertyville. While the LaVilla Theatre on Milwaukee Avenue served its purpose, Dobe sensed a desire on the part of the townspeople for a dedicated theatre and a potential business opportunity. Dobe polled the community to see if they were happy with the LaVilla and found that the citizens of Libertyville were indeed looking for a more luxurious moviegoing experience, Dobe contracted Chicago-based architects Edward P. Rupert and William L. Pereira to design a theater befitting a town of Libertyville’s stature.

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on November 17, 2013 at 7:26 am



Just Milwaukee Avenue is about 2 miles too far South on the map.

It will still not map exactly correct, you will not see the building. You need to change the address to 586 to see the theater building?

kencmcintyre on May 20, 2009 at 9:07 pm

There is a photo circa 1920s on this page: