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Theaters in East Alton, Illinois

Madison County ILGenWeb Coordinator - Beverly Bauser



Eastgate Cinema, East Alton, IL

Originally called the Lewis & Clark Eastgate Cinema I and II, the Eastgate Cinema opened on June 20, 1973. It was the area’s first new indoor movie theater in 32 years, and is located in the Eastgate Shopping Center in East Alton, off of Rt. 3. Clarence Decker, the president of the Lewis & Clark Cinema Company, previewed the theater for invited guests the night before opening.


Eastgate Cinema, East Alton, IL



The theater featured an automated projection system for the twin theater, which seated 350 patrons in each. The theater offered a family movie in one theater, and an adult and actions movie in the other. Bob Decker was manager of the theater. The projection booth-level of the theater features “VIP Rooms” for both theaters, where invited guests sat in living-room comfort and watched the movie away from the general audience. The theater is still open for entertainment.








Gem Theater, East Alton



The Gem Airdome, located at 341 W. St. Louis Avenue in East Alton (where Dominos Pizza is now), was opened by proprietor T. L. Vanpreter on June 11, 1919. The theater was managed by Frank R. Davis, who later managed the Gem Theater in Upper Alton. For 5 cents, patrons were entertained by vaudeville acts.









Ritz Theater, East Alton, Illinois


In October 1932, J. B. Vanpreter (brother of T. L. Vanpreter) remodeled his garage on West St. Louis Avenue (just across Goulding Street from the Gem Airdome), which included an addition to the rear for a stage, and a sloping floor. There he opened the Ritz Theater, showing a new invention - “talking pictures.” In addition to the theater, he opened a recreation and dance hall in the west side of the building. Elizabeth Vanpreter, wife of T. L. Vanpreter, operated both theaters.




Ritz Theater, East Alton, IL - 1939 

The Ritz Theater was built on the same site where the Four Mile House – an old-time inn where stage coaches stopped – was located. The inn was named Four Mile House, as it was four miles from the old Alton City Hall. In about 1954, the Ritz Theater was closed, and the building was used by the East Alton Furniture Company, owned by Al Bierman.

Photo of the Ritz Theater courtesy of Jason Bricker, from "Images of American - East Alton."




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