Edens I & II Theaters

320 Skokie Boulevard,
Northbrook, IL 60062

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Hugh on September 1, 2023 at 9:52 pm

It was said that the Edens was one of the few theaters to show 2001: A Space Odyssey in all it’s glory, picture and sound. (I agree.)

DavidZornig on September 14, 2022 at 8:14 pm

What would be “Splash”, had it’s “Special World Premiere Sneak Preview”, November 18th, 1983 at Edens Theatre, without naming the film. The print ad I added to the gallery, has an address of 303 Skokie Hwy, Northbrook. Edens I used that address in other Chicago Tribune print ads found in a search as far back as 1971. The lack of Edens I on the ad, could have been LA promoters phoning it in, and not knowing there was a distinction between Edens I & II.

LouRugani on October 20, 2020 at 9:06 pm

Eden Theatre architect Jack Train, FAIA, a founding principal of Valerio Dewalt Train Associates in Chicago, died on March 17, 2014 at 91. He was known for his technical and design excellence, along with his many contributions the architecture profession. He spent the first 20 years of his career with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, where he designed the award-winning US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and Inland Steel Building in Chicago. In 1966, he was a principal of Metz, Train, Olson & Youngren; ten years later the firm became Metz, Train & Youngren. In 1982, he founded Jack Train Associates and in 1993 brought longtime colleague Mark Dewalt on board. A year later, the pair teamed with Joseph Valerio to become Valerio Dewalt Train Associates. Train was the firm’s president until his retirement in 1998, after which he was named principal emeritus. Jack Train was actively involved with the American Institute of Architects (AIA) on the local, state, and national levels, served as its Chicago Chapter president from 1962 to 1964, and was the first president of AIA Illinois (then known as the Illinois AIA Council) and later its chairman. He also chaired several task forces and committees at the national level. In 1974, Train received that year’s Edward C. Kemper Award for outstanding service to the profession. He also wrote “The Unsung Essentials of Architecture” on the business of architecture. Train was survived by his wife Virginia; children Jack, Barbara, and Pamela; eight grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

moviebuff82 on June 25, 2017 at 3:11 pm

The popular podcast “Rebel Force Radio” references this theater, as well as its predecessor, “The Forcecast”, since one of the main hosts of the show grew up near this venue and saw his first star wars movie there, “Return of the Jedi”.

orsonwellescinema on March 30, 2017 at 8:36 pm

From the Chicago Tribune, an article about the closing of the theater.


For Edens I And Ii, It’s The Last Reel-but Ending Isn’t A Happy One October 21, 1994 by Anne Stein

It started its run in 1963 with “Divorce-Italian Style” and recently ended with showings of “Time Cop” and “Milk Money.”

In between, thousands of moviegoers watched hundreds of films on the huge, old-fashioned big screens of the Edens I and II Theaters along the Edens Expressway between Lake-Cook and Dundee Roads in Northbrook.

“I think I saw every one of the `Star Wars' movies there,” said Village Clerk Lona Louis. “It was nice to have a movie theater so close. In the glory days, it was a nice, big theater to go to.”

The glory days, however, are over. The theaters have been closed and sold to a developer, and they’re being demolished and will be replaced by a shopping mall.

Even those who never ventured into Edens I-a George Jetson-like structure opened 31 years ago-couldn’t miss it as they drove along the Edens Expressway or Skokie Boulevard.

Its swooping, concrete roof, low and flat in the middle and rising up to a point on either end like an old leather saddle, was the world’s largest “hyperbolic paraboloid” structure when it was built as a single-screen theater in 1963. In 1969, the more architecturally subdued Edens II was constructed nearby.

Architect Jack Train was the principal in charge of the project when Edens I was designed by Robert Palmer of the Chicago firm Perkins & Will.

“The people who came to us were old movie families and wanted to build a theater in Northbrook,” Train recalled. “They were also considering a theater where they could have speakers and do readings, and they wanted something unique.

“It seemed like a logical solution was a hyperbolic paraboloid.”

Though the building looked odd, it was economical to build, Train said. The concrete roof was poured in a day. Moreover, it had almost perfect acoustics and distributed air and light well.

But according to Howard Lichtman, a spokesman for the theaters' last operator, Cineplex Odeon, the Edens “was an old facility that didn’t warrant the capital investments to bring it up to snuff.”

“The Edens is an older complex without the modern amenities,” Lichtman said. “It wasn’t your modern multiplex with a state-of-the-art sound and projection system.”

As soon as demolition is completed this month, construction will begin on Market Square, a shopping center that could eventually stretch a half-mile from the theater site north to Lake-Cook Road.

The two theaters will be replaced by five stores, including Performance Bicycles and Kinko’s Copies and a Bertucci’s restaurant. Phase II of the shopping center project, if approved by Northbrook, may include a Builder’s Square, Circuit City and Filene’s Basement.

Though Northbrook is again without its own cinemas, that may change too, said Village Manager John Novinson.

“Somewhere down the road, this community will get theaters,” Novinson said. “There’s already talk of a new location in town.

“Unfortunately, you can’t carry those large auditoriums anymore.”

orsonwellescinema on March 30, 2017 at 8:30 pm

I recall taking my young cousins to see Annie at Edens II. Not a great film, but it sure did look and sound great there.

orsonwellescinema on March 30, 2017 at 8:27 pm

This is a Must Watch.

Northbrook Community Television’s 1-hour documentary on the theatre “Edens Theater: The Life of a Beautiful Bird.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPVwzY19eEU (Part 1 of 5)

DavidZornig on November 11, 2016 at 10:31 am

Thank you rivest266 for all your postings.

rivest266 on November 11, 2016 at 10:19 am

The November 14th, 1969 grand opening ad for Edens 2 can be found in the photo section.

orsonwellescinema on October 7, 2012 at 2:18 pm

re: 70mm, I stand corrected. Sure did seem like it. Edens II was cavernous.

I remember seeing that “coming to your galaxy this summer” poster in the foyer.

billymac72 on October 5, 2012 at 8:11 am

True, but it did have “stereophonic sound!” The makers of “Star Wars” were, of course, huge innovators in that field.

Some of my fondest memories were seeing “Star Wars” here (and I also saw it at Mt. Prospect General Cinemas, Golf Mill on re-release, and Palwaukee….probably on re-re-release!) and “Superman: The Movie.” One of the theaters, I think Edens II, had these carpeted partitions in the front of the first row. I remember sitting on the floor in front of those things to watch some movies.

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on October 4, 2012 at 9:08 pm

STAR WARS (1977) never played in 70mm when it was showing there in 1977.

orsonwellescinema on October 4, 2012 at 7:06 pm

Drove by it nearly every weekday on my way to school in the 80s. Saw LOGAN’S RUN, ANNIE HALL and Bakshi’s LORD OF THE RINGS here. Fascinating theater. I recall feeling it was kind of a foreboding place. Neat though. REALLY neat. Although, each time I was there it was a sea of empty seats. I came to expect that. Edens II, however, that’s where the big shows were … STAR WARS (first run in 70mm), RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, LION IN WINTER, EMPIRE OF THE SUN, SUPERMAN – which was so packed we had to sit in the aisle.

rivest266 on June 23, 2012 at 10:57 am

I uploaded its March 8th, 1963 grand opening ad in the photo section for this cinema.

DAL on May 14, 2012 at 8:25 am

Probably one of the strangest phone calls I ever received in 30+ years in the business was when the assistant manager of the Edens called me one sunny, windy March Sunday afternoon and told me that the fire department wouldn’t let us open Edens 1 because “the roof had come off.” Knowing the reinforced-concrete construction of that amazing roof, I knew this wasn’t possible. She couldn’t describe what she was seeing, so I drove the 30 miles to the theatre. When I arrived, I could only burst out laughing. The black tarpaper roof covering had peeled off like a giant rotten banana and was lying curled up off the edge and into the parking lot! It was several days later when the mess was cleaned up and we could reopen # 1.

mungojerry on May 13, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Had been to Edens I and II a number of times – including seeing the first Star Wars (Episode 4)movie. Wish it was still there.

whtesoxfan56 on November 2, 2011 at 7:03 pm

This theater SO should’ve been saved, and not torn down. I do wonder if this theater had been inducted into the National Register of Historic Places, if it would’ve perhaps been saved?

Too bad there wasn’t a major campaign to save this theater from demolition, years ago. I remember this theater well(though never saw a movie, as it closed when I was 12), from my drives as a kid going up the Edens to the Chicago Botanic Garden.

billymac72 on November 2, 2011 at 2:10 pm

There is a fascinating little 5-part documentary up on YouTube with footage of the demolition. I was very surprised to see this! Amazing:


PS – I don’t know how to post a link here anymore. Anyone?

Mark_L on October 18, 2011 at 12:49 pm

According to Michael Coate’s list of CINERAMA presentations in Chicago, the only CINERAMA screening at the Edens II was the 70mm re-release of THIS IS CINERAMA opening 6/13/1973 for a 7 week run.

figaro14 on October 18, 2011 at 12:16 pm

There used to be a very clear black and white photo on Cinema Treasures of the Edens I. Anyone know what happened to it? BTW, I saw some of the Cinerama comments on here. I’m fairly certain that the Edens was not equipped with the three projector Cinerama process. 1963 was the last year of the 3 camera system and the industry had already begun to convert the old Cinerama theatres to 70mm. In 1963 “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” was the first film to be released in the new 70mm Cinerama process, which replaced the old 3 camera/3 projector system of the 1950’s. Since the Edens opened in 1963, it would undoubtedly have installed the 70mm, mag track projection system. It definitely had the curved screen also.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on March 24, 2011 at 11:15 am

We played the animated “LORD OF THE RINGS” and keptit a week .Ralph Bakshi is one of my favorites in animation,so i was disappointed it pulled so bad.Glad to see it played “forever” in Northbrook.

Coate on March 24, 2011 at 10:05 am

The forever you’re referring to was 29 weeks.

enjhbarnes on March 24, 2011 at 5:53 am

Don’t forget Anton’s Fruit Ranch down the street on the other side of Skokie Highway.

Both Eden’s were regularly visited by me and my friends from Glencoe. Star Wars played there forever as well as the animated Lord of the Rings.

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on February 3, 2011 at 10:17 am

Here is another view View link of Pride Cleaners.