Tivoli Theatre

5021 Highland Avenue,
Downers Grove, IL 60515

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Related Websites

Classic Cinemas (Official)

Additional Info

Operated by: Classic Cinemas

Previously operated by: Alliance Theater Corp., Balaban & Katz Corp.

Firms: Van Gunten and Van Gunten

Functions: Movies (Classic), Movies (First Run), Performing Arts

Styles: French Renaissance

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 630.968.0219

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News About This Theater

Tivoli Theatre

Built in 1928, the Tivoli Theatre has been showing first run feature films since its inception. It opened on Christmas Day 1928 for the Balaban & Katz chain, and originally had a seating capacity for 1,390. The Tivoli Theatre was equipped with a Wurlitzer theatre organ which was removed in the 1940’s.

Following years of deterioration, the Tivoli Theatre closed its doors for a brief time in 1978. The Tivoli Theatre is the flagship of the Classic Cinemas chain of theatres that serves some of the suburbs and areas around Chicago. In the mid-1980’s a Barton 2 manual 7 ranks organ was installed, but that was later transferred to the York Theatre, Elmhust, IL. In 1992 a Wurlitzer 3 manual 10 ranks organ was installed. The instrument Opus 942 was originally installed in 1924 in the Indian Theatre, East Chicago, IN.

The theatre has film and digital projection and is equipped for 3D presentations. It is home to the After Hours Film Society, Midwest Ballet Theatre Co. and other live entertainment. By 2021 a second 33-seat screen had been added.

Recent comments (view all 66 comments)

Trolleyguy on May 5, 2020 at 12:28 pm

With the Covid19 shutdown and no patrons, the Tivoli is offering curbside pickup of popcorn and concessions over the weekend of May8-10. https://patch.com/illinois/downersgrove/tivoli-theatre-offer-popcorn-concessions-pickup-may-8-10?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_term=arts+%26+entertainment&utm_campaign=autopost&utm_content=downersgrove&fbclid=IwAR1yxbMal6hms7TpBVEvRQzX6fhUDXff5lflo-WPd-alrruKyUqvvXxH1VM

DavidZornig on November 24, 2020 at 7:22 am

Tivoli looking to expand into storefront. 11/12/20 Daily Herald article below.


Joe Moore
Joe Moore on April 14, 2021 at 9:13 am

It is now a two screen theater


“Johnson felt sure enough in the industry to install a fancy new theater at the Tivoli Theatre in Downers Grove, despite a rollercoaster year.”

MustangMike on February 25, 2022 at 1:58 pm

Your seating information is a little off. There are 1024 seats in the original auditorium and 33 in the new “Willis” auditorium (named for the founder and president of Classic Cinemas). I’ll post a picture if the new screen.

LouRugani on November 23, 2022 at 3:25 pm

“YOURS TO ENJOY - A beautiful new building designed in the sumptuous architecture of the Spanish Renaissance period; a spacious foyer brilliantly lighted and decorated; an interior gay with color and breathing an air of comfort and refinement - that is the Tivoli Theatre. The realization of a long dream - a de luxe metropolitan theatre right in the heart of Chicago’s Western Suburbs.

Planned and executed with the utmost care and thought for your comfort and enjoyment, it brings to your very door the latest sensation in Cinema entertainment - Sound and Talking Pictures. Not only will the feature pictures be the same as at the largest Chicago theatres - synchronized with music played by large Symphony Orchestras, and containing actual sound effects and in many cases Spoken Dialogue by your favorite screen stars, but the surrounding program will contain the latest Vitaphone and Movietone Singing and Talking Acts. These will bring you the greatest stars of vaudeville and musical comedy. Also the Movie-events of the world both visually and in sound. Pres. Elect Hoover, King George, of England, King Alfonso of Spain, Premier Mussolino (sic), and many others will speak to you from our screen. Amazing in its scope, it puts you in direct touch with events and people the world over.

We feel therefore that the Tivoli can rightfully be called ‘The Wonder Theatre of Suburban Chicago’."

(Advertisement: Downers Grove Reporter; Friday, December 21, 1928)

DavidZornig on April 18, 2023 at 3:13 pm

Documentary to salute Tivoli Theatre in Downers Grove By Shaw Local News Network April 17, 2023


Trolleyguy on April 19, 2023 at 8:36 am

Paywall at above link.

skyycorvair on June 17, 2023 at 7:18 pm

They used to bus us from D.G. North to the bowling alley for PE class and seeing the exterior of the Tivoli a couple times a week was always cool!

DavidZornig on August 21, 2023 at 9:17 am

Willis Johnson, co-founder of largest Illinois-based theaters, dies at 86. He loved ‘being part of the fun’ with moviegoers.


50sSNIPES on August 21, 2023 at 10:02 am

He’s an amazing man that made the Chicago Metropolitan Area and all of Illinois shine with love and entertainment, and I’m so sad and heartbroken on the news of his passing at age 86 today.

RIP Willis, you’ll be missed! God bless Willis and his great family.

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