101 N. Main Street,
Lacon, IL 61540

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This theatre appears on the 1913 Sanborn in the southern storefront of an old three story brick commercial building. The building was constructed sometime before 1888, and the 1907 map shows the entire building used as a second-hand store.

During conversion to a theatre, the front wall on the ground floor was moved well back, which would have shrunk the available seating quite a bit. The existing extension at the rear may have been incorporated, but a wall is shown dividing the two spaces.

The theatre closed many years ago, and the current structure is either a replacement, or heavily remodeled (including the removal of the top story).

Contributed by Seth Gaines

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 22, 2022 at 9:16 pm

A Mr. Earl of Pana, Illinois, was preparing to open a moving picture theater at Lacon, according to the March 13, 1909 issue of Moving Picture World. A house in Lacon called the Gem Theatre was mentioned in the January 20, 1912 MPW. The January 2, 1915 MPW mentioned Mrs. Anna Rice, who had opened the Star Theatre in Lacon (no time frame given) and was now a partner in the new Lyric Theatre there. The Star was the only house listed for the town in the 1914-1915 American Motion Picture Directory. By 1926, only the Lyric is listed in the Film Daily Yearbook.

That’s all I’ve been able to discover about Lacon’s early movie theaters. There was a 500-seat hall called the Rose (or Rose’s) Opera House, reportedly rebuilt in 1940 as the Shafer Theatre, but I’ve found no evidence that it ever operated as a movie theater in earlier years.

SethG on March 23, 2022 at 7:36 am

Hard to say what was what. This could have been the Gem, or the Gem may already have folded, and this was the Star.

robboehm on March 23, 2022 at 10:49 am

Joe, I found a reference in Konrad Schieke’s “Historic Movie Theatres in Illinois” (2015) that a new theatre was to be built in the old Rose Opera House building. That would have been the Shafer.

robboehm on March 23, 2022 at 11:16 am

Joe, I also found a reference in Mr. Schieke’s book that the Airdome opened in 1913 and the business was transferred to the K of P Building where it existed until 1940 when the owner closed it when he opened the Shafer. The seating capacity was 230. This information also appears in the overview of the Airdome which has its own listing on CT.

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