Midway Theatre

721 E. State Street,
Rockford, IL 61104

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Scott on June 20, 2023 at 10:36 pm

Today (6/20/23) is the 48th anniversary of the release of Jaws which, of course, is now considered the first of the summer blockbuster movies. Jaws played at the Midway, which I was fortunate to have seen there. I don’t remember if I was there on opening night in 1975, but if not, then it was soon after. I had read the book already so I was really excited about seeing the movie. The Midway was still in prime condition at the time, and the auditorium was absolutely packed the night I was there. There were few empty seats, if any. The movie was great, of course, and the audience really responded to it. It was a very exhilarating experience and remains a great memory. Hopefully the Midway can come alive again to entertain the masses.

booboo_babies on June 28, 2018 at 10:14 pm

Saw movies here in the late 1960s. I always liked coming to the Midway!

DavidZornig on June 30, 2015 at 8:22 am

1939 photo with original marquee added courtesy of the Rockford Rewind Facebook page.

DavidZornig on June 30, 2015 at 7:59 am

Undated photo added courtesy of the Rockford Rewind Facebook page.

DavidZornig on April 7, 2015 at 5:39 am

The Midway marquee appears multiple times in Cheap Trick’s 1997 video for “Say Goodbye”. Copy and paste to view.


rockfordmidway on January 19, 2014 at 6:16 am

please ask your parents if they remember seeing shows at rockford midway theater.

rockfordmidway on January 19, 2014 at 5:46 am

so glad their intrest in rockfordmidway check us out on facebook

Scott on November 14, 2013 at 2:39 am

Joe, I concur. The theatre was built for vaudeville and movies, and was never intended as a presentation house. And later in the 1920s when Rockford saw the addition of the Capital and Coronado theatres, the use of its stage probably declined dramatically. As a movie house it was superb. Intimate yet ornate, and excellent acoustics.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 14, 2013 at 12:52 am

In satellite view, it looks like the Midway had a very shallow stage house without a tall fly tower. Many vaudeville acts didn’t use much scenery, and some didn’t use any, so the space would have been sufficient for their purposes. The theater could never have mounted any sort of big stage production, though.

Scott on November 13, 2013 at 6:53 pm

Bobby, the Midway had a stage, but it wasn’t very deep. Not sure of the fly system as all I saw there was movies. I believe the dressing rooms were in the basement. I’m going by memory, which is sketchy as I haven’t been in the Midway since the late 1970s. It was a very cool theater and I always enjoyed going there.

BobbyS on November 13, 2013 at 5:16 pm

If the Midway was used as a vaudeville theater in 1918 & beyond I could not find a stagehouse. I thought all theaters that used live shows had to have a stagehouse. Even some of the suburban theaters that had shallow stages and showed movies had a fly system.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 12, 2013 at 12:21 am

An October 23 article in a Rockford newspaper (one of the worst newspaper web sites I’ve ever visited, so I won’t link) says that the Midway Theatre has been stabilized with a new roof, and the owners intend to restore the building, but the part of the article available to me didn’t say anything about it being used as a theater again. I got the impression that at least part of the theater will be re-purposed for other uses. The owners will attempt to get the building listed on the NRHP so they can get tax credits for any restoration work they do, and if they do get it listed the exterior at least should be safe.

The article also said that the theater has been vacant since 2003.

BobbyS on November 5, 2013 at 8:08 am

I saw “Hello Dolly” last week at the beautiful Coronado. The manager told me the TIMES & MIDWAY theatres will be re-opened. Serious people with serious moneybags are involed…I agree with your comment as I passed the MIDWAY myself.

Allan on October 27, 2013 at 5:24 pm

I live in the Southwest but drove by this theatre last week. What a GORGEOUS theatre with an amazing location on the most traveled street in Rockford. The DETAIL on the exterior is mindblowing. Someone HAS to restore this one. Just a paint job on the exterior will look amazing.

mp775 on October 30, 2012 at 7:42 pm

The roof of the Midway partially collapsed in March: http://www.rrstar.com/news/x466378763/Midway-Theatre-roof-collapse-slows-traffic-in-Rockford

DavidZornig on November 27, 2011 at 1:16 am

Recent news has Cheap Trick planning an upcoming museum restaurant/venue on Record Row/South Michigan Ave. in Chicago. Whatever became of the hotel complex plans Rick Nielsen had in Rockford? It was in the paper before the economic turn down. But then never heard of again. Was the Midway ever considered for that? The Midway could be a perfect sister venue to whatever they are planning in Chicago. Rick owns a piece of Piece, a pizza/bar in Chicago on North Ave. But surely a hometown investment would seem fitting too.

rivest266 on November 25, 2011 at 11:57 pm

I uploaded the grand opening ad from 1918 as well as two pictures from the paper in this theatre’s photo section.

Silicon Sam
Silicon Sam on April 13, 2010 at 3:41 pm

Yep, the Coca Cola logo on the luncheonette was used in the 50’s and 60’s….

DavidZornig on April 13, 2010 at 3:40 pm

jhallock, Check out the 7/24/09 post by Sonny D.
That appears to be the most current organization involved in saving the Midway. There is a website link embedded in that post.

William on April 13, 2010 at 3:11 pm

Lost Memory, the photo date for your post of May 17th, 2009. Should be 1963 not 1983. That site put the wrong year for that photo.

jhallock on April 13, 2010 at 2:47 pm

Hi, I currently live in Austin but I am a Rockford native and was recently driving past the midway theatre and found your website. Every time I come home I wonder about the state of the beautiful old buildings in downtown. Can anyone give me any info on the status of this project? has anyone really purchased the building? I am an architect and would love to lend a hand in the revitalization of the Midway. I can do renderings or drawings of potential floor plans/design ideas to help with fundraising and marketing. I think restoring this theatre would go a long way to helping the city get some life back.

edwilke on January 13, 2010 at 2:53 am

Is there 2 different groups trying to save the Midway?

theesonnyd on July 24, 2009 at 7:03 pm

I have formed The Midway center – Gateway Foundation and now have control of the Theater.
We are a 501.c.3 non-profit and intend to bring her back to life with a solid business foundation and much more.
We are seeking foundation volunteers to help in all aspects of this project but most importantly fund raisers.
Please E-mail me at if you would like to volunteer in any way.
Go to:
for more information

zuvuya on May 16, 2009 at 9:14 am

We have an army of volunteers.


Over 425 in 6 days…. it breaks our hearts to see her in such disrepair.

theesonnyd on May 16, 2009 at 6:02 am

I can answer a lot of questions here. Aside from the owner I know more about the inside of the Midway than anyone in Rockford.
A little inside info:
The Theater is in a heavy state of disrepair mostly due to 3-4 years of water damage. This damage is mostly flooring, sub floor and plaster repair. The roof needs to be completely redone. The damage to the theater itself is less than that of the front floors but is sill in very bad shape, estimates for repairs are between 2 & 3 million.
The good news: If all goes well, I’m gonna fix it. Wanna help?