Arcada Theater Building

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Arcada Theatre
Arcada Theater Building (St. Charles, IL) 02.JPG
Location St Charles, Kane County, Illinois, USA
Coordinates 41°54′49.2″N 88°18′43.31″W / 41.913667°N 88.3120306°W / 41.913667; -88.3120306Coordinates: 41°54′49.2″N 88°18′43.31″W / 41.913667°N 88.3120306°W / 41.913667; -88.3120306
Built 1926
Architect Behrns, Elmer F.
Architectural style Mission/Spanish Revival, Moderne
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 94000977 [1]
Added to NRHP August 16, 1994

The Arcada Theatre Building is a theater in St. Charles, Illinois, USA. The theatre was opened on Labor Day, September 6, 1926, presenting a silent movie and live vaudeville acts. Except for brief periods of renovation, it has remained open, providing entertainment through today.[2] It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


The Arcada Theatre was built in 1926 by local millionaire and Chicago Tribune cartoonist Lester J. Norris. The new theatre was a $500,000 example of the Norris family’s confidence in the future of St. Charles. With only 5,000 residents in the town, more than 1,009 seats were installed.

Upon the Arcada’s grand opening, the public came in such large numbers that hundreds were unable to gain entrance. Chicagoans arrived by a special railway car to see the featured film "The Last Frontier" and the Vaudeville acts of Fibber McGee and Molly Lora. Patrons also heard a recital on the famous $25,000 Marr and Colton silver and red organ, which was adorned with carved flamingos.

The Arcada became known as one of the outstanding Vaudeville houses in the Fox River Valley. Many legendary stars have graced the stage, including George Burns and Gracie Allen, Judy Garland, Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, Olivia DeHavilland, the John Phillip Sousa Band, Liberace, Mitzi Gaynor, Cornelia Otis Skinner, Vincent Price, Carol Channing, Jeanette MacDonald, Walter Slezak and the Von Trapp Family Singers.

In May 2005, historic preservationist Ron Onesti, president of [1] The Onesti Entertainment Corporation (OEC), assumed ownership of theatre operations. As a producer of entertainment experiences across the U.S., OEC brought “Big City” shows to the western suburbs of Chicago. Onesti, who also owns a historic landmark property at 18 N. 4th Street, St. Charles, ([2] Onesti Dinner Club) has reported investing more than $100,000 in dressing room renovations, and repairs and paint. Upgrades to the sound system, lighting, stage and rest room facilities were also added. Onesti Entertainment exclusively books the talent and produces all the shows.

Today, the Arcada Theatre is a 900-seat venue and features the original pipe organ that rises from within the stage floor. Iconic stars including Mickey Rooney, Shirley MacLaine, Jerry Lewis, Dionne Warwick, Joan Rivers, Paul Anka, Kenny Rogers, Pat Benatar, Three Dog Night, Wayne Newton, Dana Carvey, Rich Little, Eric Burdon and Martin Short have been among recent headliners. The theatre is also a resource for community groups and local performers who utilize the venue for their events. .[3]

Comedian Andrew Dice Clay recorded his 2012 Showtime special "Indestructable" at the theater in August of that year.


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23. 
  2. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form" (PDF). HAARGIS Database. Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. Retrieved 2007-08-03. 
  3. ^ "Onesti Entertainment Corporation". Retrieved 2009-10-23. 

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