Crystal Theatre

304 N. Water Street,
Decatur, IL 62523

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 10, 2024 at 7:08 am

The description of this house is inaccurate, but both the theater name and the building have a complex early history. A movie house called The Nickelodeon opened at 300 N. Water Street in 1906, and a house called the Crystal Theatre was operating in Decatur as early as July, 1908, and it was probably next door to The Nickelodeon, which appears to be in the same building. The 1908 Sanborn map shows two adjacent storefronts labeled “Electric Theatre” at 302 and 306 N. Water (302 is on the corner, so there is no 300 on the map.)

The 1914-1915 American Motion Picture Directory lists the Crystal without an address, but also lists a house called the Corner Theatre at 300 N. Water Street. The 1915 Sanborn map still shows the two adjacent storefronts now labeled “Motion Picture Theater”, and it still numbers them 302 and 306 Water Street.

One source says The Nickelodeon became the Colonial Theatre. The Crystal was called the Nasawan Theatre for a while before reverting to the Crystal name in 1911. It seems likely that the Crystal expanded at some point to absorb the former space of The Nickelodeon (the original space was far too small to accommodate almost 500 seats.) Unfortunately Sanborn maps of the location when the Crystal would have been alone and enlarged are not available.

In 1922 the Crystal came under the control of a Mr. and Mrs. C. E. Morrow, who opened the Morrow (or Morrow’s) Theatre, a different house, at 312 N. Water Street in 1929. The Morrow Theatre became the Bond Theatre in 1943. The Crystal was listed in the FDY through 1935 but was gone in 1936. I’ve been unable to find any theater in Decatur that was called the M & M.