Arcada Theater Building
|Location||Main Street (North Avenue), St Charles, Kane County, Illinois, United States|
|Architect||Behrns, Elmer F.|
|Architectural style||Mission/Spanish Revival, Moderne|
|NRHP Reference #||94000977 |
|Added to NRHP||August 16, 1994|
The Arcada Theatre Building is a theater in St. Charles, Illinois located on Main Street (which becomes North Avenue (Chicago) further eastward). The theatre was opened on Labor Day, September 6, 1926, engaging projection of silent movies and the staging of live vaudeville acts. Except for brief periods of renovation, it has remained continuously open. 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 The Onesti Entertainment Corporation (OEC), assumed ownership of its operations. Making use of its standing as a producer of entertainment shows in the United Statees, the OEC brought marquee performances typical of major city downtowns to the far western suburbs of Chicago. Onesti, who also owns another historic landmark property located at 18 N 4th Street in St. Charles -- the Onesti Dinner Club -- has reported investing more than $100,000 in dressing room renovations, upgrades to the sound system, lighting, and added stage and rest room facilities. Onesti Entertainment is the only booking agent and show producer.
Today, the Arcada Theatre is a 900-seat venue featuring its original pipe organ that rises from within the stage floor. Among other notable performers, The B-52's, 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 recent headliners. The theatre also functions a resource for community groups and local performers when not occupied by mainliner events.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23.
- "National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form" (PDF). HAARGIS Database. Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. Retrieved 2007-08-03.
- "Onesti Entertainment Corporation". Retrieved 2009-10-23.