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Collinsville, Illinois Theaters

Madison County ILGenWeb Coordinator - Beverly Bauser

 

MINERS' INSTITUTE THEATER

Miners' Institute Theater, CollinsvilleThe Miners’ Institute Theater is located at 204 W. Main Street in Collinsville. It opened in December 28 and 29, 1918, and was designed by St. Louis architect Robert Kirsch. Sixteen hundred local union miners donated 1% of their pay for a year to fund the construction of the building. Over the entrance of Miners Hall were two life-sized figures of miners, clasping hands to signify fraternity in their union. Lights on the miners’ helmets lit the doorway.

The three-story building had an auditorium on the first floor, 62x90 feet, with a balcony, 62x46 feet. The balcony was supported in a way to eliminate columns or other obstructions to the audience below. The theater had high-quality, comfortable seats. There were four boxes at the sides of the stage, and the front seats of the balcony were also in boxes. On the main floor was a storeroom and buffet. The second floor contained a large reading room, two committee rooms, secretaries’ room, bathrooms, shower baths, and lockers. On the third floor, there was a meeting room and an equipped kitchen. The exterior of the theater was primarily semi-glazed terra cotta and a light-colored brick. The lobby and vestibule had wainscoting of Tennessee pink marble with a black marble base. The Union Temple, as it was sometimes called, was very popular with members of all union, and it was very hard for other theaters in Collinsville to survive.

The theater became a second-run movie theater in the 1960s, and closed in 1984. It was placed on the National Historic Places in 1985. In 2011, it was used as a live-performance venue. The building still stands.

 

MINERS INSTITUTE WILL OPEN SOON
Source: Collinsville Advertiser, November 16, 1918
The day is drawing near when the Miners Theatre will open its doors to the public, and that day will mark an epoch in the history of Collinsville. Every citizen of our city can feel a just pride in this building, which would grace any large city, and a vote of thanks is due those men whose untiring efforts have been responsible for the erection of the edifice.

At a meeting of the trustees held on Wednesday night, it was decided that the new building would be opened on Saturday, December 14, with dedication exercises in the afternoon of this date, and with the opening show in the evening. The trustees were unable to announce the opening previously, owing to the influenza epidemic, but the ban having been lifted, were able to set the definite date at their meeting Wednesday evening.

Miners' Institute Theater, CollinsvilleThe Miners Institute building, of which the theatre is a part, was designed by Robert G. Kirsch of St. Louis, the well-known architect of the Middle West. It is most attractive architecturally, being of modern renaissance design. As you enter, the vestibule and lobby, with their marble wainscoting of pink Tennessee marble and black marble base, make a most agreeable impression. The auditorium of the theater is 62 feet by 90 feet in size, and has a balcony floor 62 feet by 46 feet. The balcony floor is supported by girders of span of the entire width of the theatre, eliminating all sight-obstructing columns on the main floor. On the sides of the proscenium arch, four boxes are provided. The front seats of the balcony are also divided into boxes.

This new theatre is the last word in decorative art throughout. The color scheme is a thing of beauty and consequently will be a joy forever. The woodwork tinted in French grey with beautiful frescoes across the high ceiling; the charming delicate grill work trails of the organ loft; the myriads of electric lights cleverly placed to get the best effect, make a scene of incomparable beauty.

The stage is so constructed and equipped with electric lighting, dressing rooms, gridiron, etc., that any performance can be given on it. Original scenery of great beauty has been especially designed, promising a wonderful stage setting that will be a surprise to even seasoned theatre patrons. The sight lines of all seats were carefully studied and arranged, so that every seat in the house has a clear view toward the whole stage, as well as toward the screen for the moving picture show. An asbestos curtain gives a delightful feeling of security. The orchestra is to be placed in front of the stage in a depressed pit.

All devotees of the silent drama will be interested in knowing that the most improved type of the Waton Rexelex Motor Generator is installed, together with two of the latest and best motion picture machines on the market, guaranteeing absolute perfection in the projecting of pictures on the screen. This screen also is the very best procurable, and is stamped with the approval of all the well-known motion picture theatres throughout the country.

That everything should contribute to the enjoyment of the patrons over-ruled all monetary considerations, so great care was exercised in the arrangement of the seats, by allowing ample space from back to back, thus assuring absolute comfort. This is sure to be appreciated, and will appeal to many who have spent hours in cramped seating quarters, thereby materially detracting from the enjoyment of the performance. Another convenience of the theatre is a restroom for the ladies.

The entire building is heated and ventilated by the best modern methods. In addition, the auditorium is provided with large shutters, operated for summer air ventilation. The building is of strictly fireproof construction, and is provided with sufficient exits to clear the auditorium in a few minutes. No effort and expense has been spared to make this theatre complete in every sense of the word, and to provide everything for the comfort and amusement of the patrons. The management has planned shows that cannot be surpassed, and what more could be asked? Too much cannot be said about the splendid electrical equipment which rivals the most pretentious showhouses of a city. One thousand lights are used to illuminate the interior.

 

PAINTER KILLED BY 40-FOOT FALL
Source: Collinsville Advertiser, November 23, 1918
William G. T. Jones, a painter employed at the new Miners Institute building in Collinsville, fell to his death Monday when a board on a scaffold on which he was working broke, and let him fall to the granitoid floor, almost forty feet below. Jones’ skull was fractured, and he died a few minutes after the fall. He was 53 years of age, and resided at 1482a Burd Avenue, St. Louis, and was married, being survived by the widow. An inquest was conducted by Justice Thomas, and the other workmen in the building told of their attention being attracted by the noise of the falling man, and of their seeing him strike the pavement. A physician was called, and the man carried to the hospital, where he expired in a few moments. The jury rendered a verdict in accordance with the above facts.

 

MINERS’ INSTITUTE THEATER FORMAL DEDICATION
Source: Troy Call, December 20, 1918
Saturday and Sunday, December 28 and 29, will be gala days for the miners at Collinsville. On these dates, the new Miners’ Institute building, recently completed in that city on Main Street, will be formally dedicated to the uses of the miners and the public. The dedication was to have taken place on December 14 and 15, but had to be postponed on account of the influenza epidemic.

The Miners’ Institute building is one of the most imposing structures in Collinsville, of which there are quite a few. It is the fruit of the efforts of sixteen hundred miners, who are members of Local Unions 264, 685, 846, and 848.

This handsome building is three stories high. The principal feature of the building is its fine, completely equipped theater, large enough to accommodate the biggest theatrical productions presented on any stage. This auditorium is on the first floor, and is 62x90 feet in size, with a balcony floor 62x46 feet. The balcony is supported in such a manner as to eliminate all columns and other obstructions to the view to the audience on the lower floor. High grade, comfortable seats, roomy and large, have been installed, and there is a clear view of the stage from each seat. The stage is equipped with all electrical appliances to be found in any first-class theater. There are four boxes on the sides of the stage, and the front seats in the balcony are also in boxes. The curtain is of asbestos. A complete motion picture outfit will also be installed.

On the main floor there is also a storeroom and a buffet. The second floor contains a large reading room, luxuriously furnished, two committee rooms, secretaries’ room, toilet rooms, shower baths, and lockers. On the third floor, there is a meeting room, 30x30 feet in size, and a completely equipped kitchen. Banquets and dances may be held in this room.

Over the entrance to the clubroom quarters of the miners is a group of statuary that is attractive. There are two life-size figures of miners clasping hands, signifying fraternity. The background is the seal of the United Mine Workers of America. The group forms a very attractive piece of decorative art.

The entire building is of fireproof construction. Semi-glazed terra cotta is the principal material used, with soft-hued brick as a body. The vestibule and lobby have a wainscoting of Tennessee pink marble with black marble base.

Much credit is due the members of the board of trustees, which had charge of the construction of the imposing building. The board is composed of Eli H. Russell, president; George Harle, secretary; James P. Darmody, treasurer; and Paul Franzi, James Walker, Joseph Huss, David Titus, and William Haley.

Special attractions have been secured for the theater for the formal opening, and many miners of Troy and surrounding towns contemplate attending the formal opening during the two days.

 

MINERS’ INSTITUTE BUILDING DEDICATION
Source: Collinsville Advertiser, December 28, 1918
The formal dedication of the new Miners Institute building in this city will take place this afternoon, and in the theater portion of the building will be given the initial performance tonight, followed by a matinee tomorrow afternoon and a performance again tomorrow night.

The dedicatory exercises will be preceded by a parade of miners, in which other labor organizations and representatives have been invited to take part. The parade will form at the city hall at 1 p.m., and the procession will proceed to the Institute building, where the speaking exercises will take place. Rev. Theo Cates of Alton, former M. E. minister of Collinsville, will give the invocation, and addresses will be made by International President Frank J. Hayes, State President Frank Farrington, Thomas J. Reynolds of Collinsville, and Dan L. Thomas of O’Fallon. Many visitors from local unions outside the city are expected to attend the exercises.

 

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PETITE 4 CINEMA
The Petite 4 Cinema, located at 2002 Mall Street in Collinsville, opened in 1973. It was operated by the Carmike Cinemas chain. The theater closed February 19, 2004. On March 20, 2004, a blaze completely gutted the vacant building.

                                                                      Petite 4 Cinema, Collinsville

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WILL ROGERS THEATER

Will Rogers TheaterThe Will Rogers Theater is located at 101 E. Main Street in Collinsville. In March 1933, a fire gutted a building at 101 E. Main Street. Fredman Bros. Furniture Corporation began construction of a three-story brick building, but never completed it. In August 1936, Samuel Komm, who operated nearly 2 dozen local theaters, including the Miners Theater just 2 blocks away, announced that a new theater would be built on the site, and would be named Will Rogers, after the popular humorist and actor who was killed in a plane crash the previous year. Plans for the theater were drawn by architect Robert Boller of Kansas City. The local contractor was Joseph Juda. The theater opened on New Year’s Eve, 1936, with five hours of entertainment that included Mickey Mouse, “Popeye,” news reels, and three feature films. The price for the opening evening was 40 cents for adults, and 15 cents for children. Despite the grand opening, the Will Rogers Theater was not a great success. Just 8 months after the opening, a “grand reopening” was announced for September 4, 1937. The theater operated off and on until sometime in the 1940s, when it closed for good. Sam Komm died in 1947. In 1950, the owners offered teenagers the use of the building free of charge as a recreation center called “Teen Town” (and later called the “Tepee”). Jere’s Clothing opened in the building, which was followed by Glik’s in 1979, and Isle of U in 1995. The building still stands.

 

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