Des Plaines Theatre

1476 Miner Street,
Des Plaines, IL 60016

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The Des Plaines Theater was opened as a vaudeville/movies house on August 9, 1925 with Adolphe Menjou in “Are Parents People” plus five acts of vaudeville on the stage. Built for the Polka Brothers circuit, the theatre was designed by architect William B. Betts of neighboring Park Ridge, who also designed the Glen Theatre (now the Glen Art Theatre) in west suburban Glen Ellyn among other theatres. The Spanish Moorish style foyer led into a Spanish Renaissance style auditorium, which originally seated 1,018 patrons and had a large stage and orchestra pit. The theatre was equipped with a 3 manual Geneva theatre organ which was installed in December 1925, and removed from the theatre in August 1934. The theatre’s exterior was in an Art Deco style, complete with bright, multi-colored terra cotta on the fa├žade.

In 1935, members of the Balaban family (of the Balaban & Katz chain fame) purchased the Des Plaines Theater, and it became primarily a first-run movie house. That same year, the theatre was remodeled by the firm of Pereira & Pereira, adding some Art Deco style touches, especially to the marquee. In 1982, a fire nearly destroyed the theatre, but it was reopened a couple years later as a twin, with each auditorium seating about 275 patrons and screening second-run films.

The Des Plaines received a much-needed renovation in 1998, and showed primarily first-run East Indian films until closing in early-2003.

The Des Plaines Theater was again showing East Indian movies in 2006 and 2007, but was not been used since January 2008 when the theatre was used to for a special showing of “High School Musical 2” hosted by Radio Disney. It then re-opened as a performing arts venue, which also shows movies.

In October 2010, work began converting the theatre back to a single auditorium. Renovations were completed and the theatre re-opened on November 11, 2011. Seating is now provided for 700, with hopes of adding a further 250 seats in the near future. Programming live theatre, Bollywood movies, independent movies, and hopes of including Hollywood movies and film festivals.

The Des Plaines Theatre was closed in January 2014. Renovations began in November 2019 and were completed on October 1, 2021. It reopened on October 31, 2021 as a concert. live music venue with Kevin Costner & Modern West appearing. Seating is now provided for 958, with 824 in the orchestra and 134 in the balcony.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 111 comments)

Khnemu on March 12, 2020 at 12:53 am

The opening of the theater has been pushed back to October or later:

DavidZornig on October 2, 2020 at 12:12 am

1967 photo via Flickr in below link.

DavidZornig on October 21, 2020 at 2:22 am

October 19, 2020 behind the scenes video tour of Des Plaines Theater by Ron Onesti. It appears that the comments were turned off.

DavidZornig on July 8, 2021 at 7:45 am

Set to reopen Labor Day Weekend.

DavidZornig on September 7, 2021 at 5:42 am

Target date for reopening is October 1st.

DavidZornig on October 4, 2021 at 3:44 am

Grand reopening Halloween night, October 31st with Kevin Costner & Modern West. Official website below.

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on June 4, 2023 at 1:36 pm

I re3cently went to see The Great Pretenders (a Pretenders Tribute Band) here recently and I thought, “What a great restoration!” The previous time I was in here was in 1990 to see the movie “Joe Vs the Volcano'. I remember thinking, "What a dump” back then.

As a side note, the Great Pretenders are also known as Deacon Bleus, a Steely Dan Tribute Band.

Trolleyguy on November 4, 2023 at 2:31 pm

Functions should include Classic movies.

Ssc48 on January 18, 2024 at 7:10 pm

Did they move the organ from the old Portage Theatre to this theatre?

Broan on January 18, 2024 at 7:36 pm

The Portage used a Kimball console to control a Hauptwerk virtual organ. The Kimball was at the Des Plaines for a short time after the Portage was closed. That console is now refurbished and at the Music Box. The Silent Film Society now uses a portable setup.

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