Geneva Theatre

319 W. State Street,
Geneva, IL 60134

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windsor on July 19, 2015 at 6:28 pm

In 1947 and 1948 I was an usher at the Geneva Theatre having been hired by Alex Valos.I was 12, but stood at six feet. Another school mate, Daniel Serika was also an usher. The theatre also had a counter grill off to the right and we were allowed to have dinner there. We were paid 75cents an hour. I could also set the marquee for another dollar.We had uniform jackets and wore white shirts with a black bow tie. Saturdays there were special children shows including free Hollywood Comics -actually returns the covers of which had been sliced but a heavy paper with the title Hollywood Comics stapled over them. I rose my bike from my home at 500 Franklin Street to the theatre. I was allowed to keep my bike in the lobby off to the side. My earnings were kept in a savings account. I recall a store to the left of the theatre as you faced it where Scouting uniforms and equipment was sold. Chuck Windsor

dermamuse on January 4, 2012 at 1:13 am

I lived in “Old Town” Geneva, Il., for 10 years. My three children and I have very fond memories of this theater. It was a great neighborhood gathering place and usually showed family friendly movies. I moved from Geneva in 1995 and was very saddened to hear the theater had closed in 2000. I think that when a small town loses its downtown movie theater, the downtown area will eventually suffer an economic downturn. This movie theater and downtown State Street were featured in the film, “The Road To Perdition.”

LouisRugani on March 15, 2011 at 5:24 pm

Daily Herald, 11/15/2009)
Geneva marquee serves as community bulletin board

It’s not exactiy “getting your name up in lights,” but it sure is a good way to get the word out about a community event and remind people about what is happening in Geneva.
The marquee of the old Geneva Theater displays messages about school, park district, chamber of commerce, cultural arts or charitable organization events and fundraisers.
And it all happens through Pagans, a company owned by downtown developer Joe Stanton.
“It used to be that the chamber of commerce took care of the marquee, but Joe noticed that the women who work for the chamber were always the ones having to get up on the ladder to change the message and he just didn’t think that was right,” said Debbie Draus, office manager at Pagans.
“We have a maintenance person who works on that theater building anyway, so it was easier forus and we volunteered to take it over and do something for events that bring the community together,” Draus added.
The chamber, library, schools and parks get first dibs on the marquee when they have events taking place, Draus said of the free billing on the marquee.
“It’s not for stores to promote a sale or anything like that, but it is for events that would bring people into town, and the stores benefit from that,” Draus added. “We have a lot of requests for use of the marquee, and organizations are finding that it’s booked well in advance."
Any planners who feel their event might qualify for marquee placement can check in with Pagans at (630) 208-0319.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 10, 2009 at 10:10 pm

The Fargo Theatre was damaged by a fire on March 19, 1937. The April 3 issue of Boxoffice said that repairs were proceeding rapidly and the theater would reopen soon. The theater was owned by Charles Fargo and was then being operated by the Fred Anderson circuit.

The latest mention of the Fargo I’ve found is from 1939, and the earliest mention of the Geneva is from 1943.

The Valos circuit had the Geneva Theatre extensively remodeled in 1947, and an illustrated article about the theater by the decorator on the project, Hanns Teichert, was published in Boxoffice Magazine’s issue of June 19, 1948.

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on July 25, 2008 at 4:58 am

I went past this place recently. Other than the marquee, there is little evidence that this was a cinema. And the marquee appears to be used for public service announcements.

Patsy on May 29, 2008 at 12:57 pm

And now I see that it was “twinned”!

Patsy on May 29, 2008 at 12:56 pm

Is this theatre closed? If so, what gives?

Broan on September 17, 2007 at 10:49 am

The Geneva and its sister Polka Brothers circuit theaters in Sycamore and [/theaters/1660/]Dekalb[/url] were built by former Geneva Mayor (1903-04, 1907-10) and State Representative (1910-1912) Henry B. Fargo. A 2002 Daily Herald letter notes that owners Carol and Jerry Boose renovated the Geneva at a cost of 3 times what demolition would have cost, and restored the marquee as a community events sign. The letter also states that it was built in 1924 and built by the Wilson Brothers.

YamiFiend2277 on June 15, 2006 at 5:28 am

I used to work at this theater……it was a classic old place. It’s a shame it closed. I worked there when I was 15 (i’m now 22) and I can distinctly remember that the seating arrangement consisted of every other row was a table with a little lamp built in… could order food in the lobby, take a number placard back to your seat and the attendant would bring you your food (not your conventional candy and popcorn either……but chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, pizza, etc….) I thought that was such a cool idea…..except for the fact that I was one of those people that had to deliver the food……..The reason I think this whole place failed is that they showed movies that had come out a couple months prior, and only charged $1.00 per person. It was a good deal, but obviously it didn’t make a profit. It really is sad that it closed.

GWaterman on December 3, 2005 at 2:17 pm

I attended movies as a child here. It was the kind of theatre parents would drop their kids off at while they shopped. I remember that a half-eaten lollipop had been thrown up to the valence over the screen, and hung down there, for at least a whole summer.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on September 13, 2005 at 7:16 am

I was in Geneva today on business and stopped at the pub for lunch, after spotting the Geneva’s marquee by chance. The pub appears to take up what was once the lobby. The auditorium has been carved into two or three business units with distinct entrances. The only obvious remnant of the theatre is the marquee, which carries community event announcements. It should also be mentioned that the pub charged me $10 for a small turkey sandwich, a bag of chips and a Coke!!!

xtopher1974 on January 22, 2005 at 10:08 pm

I grew up in Geneva (1978-1992; age 4 until 18). And new that Road to Perdition was to be shot in town. The Geneva hotel where the gangster character stays when he gets out of Chicago is actually about a half a block down from the theater at the Corner of 3rd and State. The theater only appears in the corner during a car chase, but you can clearly see the “Geneva” theater sign in the background.

For some reason the database here is a little confused. The Fargo theater listing is one and the same as the Geneva Theater. If I recall when the theater was renovated in the late 1980s into a twin the tile was exposed in the entry that said “Fargo Theater.” Or I might be confused and it was covered up. The concrete flurish in the center of the building’s picture above still says “Fargo” and the block is known as the Fargo block.

There used to be a good pizza parlor next door and just down the street in the same building was Grumwald’s (?) antique store where Governor Thompson used to visit when antiquing in Geneva.

I remember seeing Footloose here in the 80s and riding my bike down town to see other shows as a kid. Friends from high school worked here, and we would get the extra popcorn after the last show.

sholleran on August 19, 2004 at 11:29 am

It became 2 smaller screens I believe, with one later rearranged to have fewer seats behind long, low bar surfaces or with low round cocktail tables between them. More upscale snacks, beer, wine, and cocktails were available, and I think they briefly had pre-show cocktail waiters/waitresses.

The Geneva Theater and the block it resides on was featured in the Tom Hanks film, “Road to Perdition” for it’s authentic 30’s appearance. Minor alterations to a few modern storefronts and a cast of Model A’s & T’s transformed the entire block into 1930 midwest America. Directly across the street from the theater is the large half-round window into the “hotel room” of one of the characters, from which I recall the movie watcher views the street scene including the theater facade.

MEDIAMAN on July 22, 2004 at 1:12 pm

Before it closed this single screen house had been cut up into 2 or 3 (I don’t recall) smaller screening rooms. The building and marquee are still as shown in this photo. The current owners plan on keeping the facade but redeveloping the property as a commercial/retail/office building.