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Theaters in Granite City, Illinois

Madison County ILGenWeb Coordinator - Beverly Bauser










Columbia Airdome, Granite City, IL



The Columbia Airdome opened on March 27, 1910. It was located on D Street, between 18th and 19th Streets in Granite City. It had a seating capacity of 1,200. Opening night performance included Walter A. Diefenbach in his famous Ethopian Eccentricities and Miss Florence Lawrence, a silent movie actress. Amateur night was held every Thursday. Admission was 5 and 10 cents.






The Columbia Theater opened on November 21, 1925. It was located at 24th & Madison Avenue in Granite City, Paul Lutostanski was the owner of the theater. This theater later became the American Legion prior to its being razed.

Source: Granite City Press Record, August 28, 1925
The Columbia Theater, now being built at 24th and Madison Avenue by Paul Lutostanski, at a cost of $25,000, will be opened about October 15, according to an announcement made by the owner today. The work on the foundation has been completed, and now the brick work, which is being done by Hennemeyer, is well under way, and is to be completed sometime next week.

The owner states that the theater is to be a neighborhood one, which will supply the pictures demanded by the community. A new picture will be shown every night, and the pictures are to be the best produced by the nationally known companies. The seating capacity of the new place will approximately be 500, and the most up-to-date and efficient ventilation system is being installed. The present construction work is under the supervision of Paul Zerlan. Llutostanski, a former newspaper man, states that he was manager of a theater in Royalton, Illinois, for two years, when his lease on the building expired.

Source: Granite City Press Record, November 24, 1925
Courtesy of Granite City, IL Chronicle: A Historical Journey, on Facebook
At the opening of the new Columbia Theater, located at 24th and G Streets, Saturday night nearly 1,000 people were turned away from the doors because there was not enough room to seat them. Three full shows were given, and there was an attendance of over 1,500 people. Music was furnished by the Granite City Band, led by John Tate. The union objected to the use of the Jefferson Barracks Military Band. In order to give more seating capacity, a balcony will probably be erected, according to an announcement made by Paul Lutostanski, the proprietor. Maner’s Orchestra has been engaged to furnish music each evening. The pictures are changed every night, and matinees are given from 2 to 5 o’clock on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. On Thanksgiving Day, there is to be a continuous program of special nature from 2 to 11 p.m.



The Electric Theater and Palace of Mystery was established in 1903, and was located at 19th and E Streets in Granite City. Very little is known about this small theater. It is possible this theater was a temporary venue or tent, or perhaps an Airdome.

Source: Granite City Press, 1903
Courtesy of Granite City, IL Chronicle: A Historical Journey, on Facebook
An Electric Theater and Palace of Mystery has taken stand at 19th and E Streets, and are playing to crowded houses every night. The entertainment consists of animated, moving pictures, produced by electrical appliances, and is well worth the price of admission, 10 cents.



Empress Skydome, Granite City, IL



The Empress Skydome opened June 8, 1914, and was located at 19th & State Street in Granite City. The outdoor, moving picture theater showed Kinemacolor moving pictures on Mondays and Saturdays, and featured live vaudeville performances every night.

Grand Airdome, Granite City, IL


The Grand Airdome was opened on April 24, 1915. It was formerly the Empress Skydome. The airdome was located at 19th & State Streets in Granite City.











The Grand Theater was located at 1919 State Street (near Nineteenth Street) in Granite City. It was under the management of Mrs. Frank J. Guth, and even though it was not fully completed, the theater opened on Saturday, March 11, 1916, with the 5-reel master picture, “The Thoroughbred” and a 2-reel Keystone comedy featuring Sid Chaplin. Music was provided by a Wurlitzer player piano. Admission was 5 and 10 cents. Mrs. Guth, was managed the theater, died March 9, 1917, following an illness and operation. She was 29 years old, and left behind her husband and one child.

Source: Granite City Press Record, February 11, 1916
Courtesy of the Granite City, IL Chronicle: A Historical Journey on Facebook
On the fourth day of October, 1915, Frank J. Guth and Clyde Adams entered into a co-partnership to become partners in operating a moving picture and vaudeville theater on State Street. Later, they began the construction of a building. The building did not comply with the laws and ordinances of the city of Granite City, and the state officers and city officers of Granite City stopped the building and required the building to be built according to plans that would comply with the laws of the city and state. The building has been under construction for about four months, and on the 29th day of January, 1916, Frank J. Guth filed his bill in chancery in the city court of Granite City, asking for a dissolution of the partnership and an accounting and an injunction, praying that the court restrain his partner, Clyde Adams, from circulating stories regarding the financial standing and transactions of the partnership, and asking that he be permitted to complete the building at his own expense. The injunction was refused by the court as against Clyde Adams. On the 9th day of February, 1916, Clyde Adams filed his answer to said bill, and also a cross-bill, praying for an injunction against the said Frank J. Guth, and asking the court to enjoin the said Frank J. Guth, his agents and attorneys, from making any further contracts for material, labor, or work for said building, situated on lot 5, block 49, Granite City, in the name of the co-partnership, or from conducting on said lot a moving picture show or vaudeville theater under the terms of the original contract as co-partners. The court granted the injunction in favor of Clyde Adams, and the injunction was served on Guth Thursday morning of this week. This matter between the partnership will be settled in court at the March term of the city court.

Source: Granite City Press Record, October 22, 1915
Courtesy of the Granite City, IL Chronicle: A Historical Journey, on Facebook
Believing that the construction of the building was a big risk in case of fire, and also that the dimensions and material used did not conform with the city ordinances, which provide for fireproof buildings within the fire zone, Mayor J. C. Steele this morning ordered work upon the new winter theater, being constructed by F. J. Futh and others, stopped. The building was being erected upon State Street, and was contemplated to cover a full city lot, with a seating capacity of several hundred. When the matter of the building permit was brought to the attention of Mayor Steele, he granted permission for the erection of the building upon being assured that it was to conform with all city requirements. However, when Mayor Steele inspected the building yesterday, and saw that the building was to be of frame construction, with a coating of material similar to plaster upon it, he ordered the builders to stop work, and not to proceed until the building conformed entirely with the ordinances. The building was planned to be a winte4r theater, and was to be operated throughout the season by the owners and managers. Mayor Steele received the hearty approval of a large number of business men, some of whom have their places of business adjoining the proposed theater, when he ordered work upon the building stopped until all requirements were met. Those who were interviewed declared the building appeared to be more or less of a fire trap, and were afraid its presence in close proximity with their buildings would increase fire insurance rates. Mayor Steele said last evening: “I am heartily in favor of all the business institutions of a desirable nature the city can secure, and really believe a second theater would be the means of giving local patrons better pictures and shows. However, I am determined that the city building ordinances shall be compiled with, and for that reason I ordered work stopped upon the new theater building. Nothing will proceed with my permission until every building ordinance is complied with.


Princess Theater, Granite City, ILTHE PRINCESS THEATER
The former Grand Theater opened as the Princess Theater in 1918. It was managed by Mr. and Mrs. P. F. Lowery of Salem, Illinois.

Source: Granite City Press, 1918
Courtesy of the Granite City, IL Chronicle: A Historical Journey, on Facebook
Now that the old Grand Theater on State Street is under new management and has a new name, being called “The Princess,” it has been deemed advisable to give the place a new coat of paint and a general remodeling. The work has been done on a thorough scale, and the place is hardly to be recognized when one steps inside. New lights have been installed, and they show up the tints of green and gold admirable.

The “Princess” is showing to crowded houses every night, giving its patrons some very good all-picture shows at popular prices. The place is under the management of Mr. and Mrs. Lowery of Salem, Illinois.



The Rialto Theater, formerly the Princess, was opened Saturday, September 27, 1919. The proprietor was Alfred S. Cote. The opening show was a Hall Caine special feature, “The Woman Thou Gavest Me,” together with a new Fatty Arbuckle comedy titled, “Back Stage.”

Source: Granite City Press
Courtesy of the Granite City, IL Chronicle: A Historical Journey, on Facebook
Alfred S. Cote, proprietor of the Liberty Theater in East St. Louis and the Madison Theater, as well as a heavy stockholder in a number of St. Louis theaters, is to open up the old Princess Theater on State Street in Granite City. Mr. Cote expects to open up the theater about September 15th.

Source: Granite City Press, September 26, 1919
Courtesy of Courtesy of the Granite City, IL Chronicle: A Historical Journey, on Facebook
Opening Saturday night with an excellent program, featuring the Hall Caine special feature, “The Woman Thou Gavest Me,” together with a new Fatty Arbuckle comedy entitled, “Back Stage,” the new Rialto Theater, formerly the Princess, will present an inviting interior to the theater-going public of Granite City. The Rialto, which is now under the management of Alfred S. Cote, has been entirely remodeled and re-decorated at an expense of over $7,000. A brand new floor has been laid, with special noiseless runners on the aisles. The theater has been entirely decorated in a soft blue tone, lending a comfortable atmosphere and aiding one’s enjoyment of the pictures.

Mr. Cote has purchased the lot and building, and intends to make the Rialto popular by offering only the very finest of motion picture features. Courteous treatment and ceaseless attention to the comfort of patrons are an important part of the Rialto’s policy.

Among the producers whose new output will be seen exclusively at the Rialto are Paramount-Artcraft, Goldwyn, Select, Realart, Vitagraph, Pathe, Word, Mutual and Universal Pictures. The stars who will appear in their newest productions only at the Rialto comprise such favorites as Charles Ray, Marguerite Clark, Mabel Normand, Tom Moore, Vivian Martin, Elsie Ferguson, Pauline Fredericks, Madge Kennedy, June Elvidge, Billie Burke, Wallace Reid, Fatty Arbuckle, Geraldine Farrar, Will Rogers, Louis Hennison, Alice Brady, Mary Miles Minter, Virginia Pearson, Harry Carey, William Desmond, Harry Morey, Alice Joyce, Earle Williams, Bessie Love, Gladys Leslie, Marguerite Fisher, Bessie Barriseale, and many others.

The policy at the Rialto will be a change of program daily, with the evening performance starting at 6:30 p.m., and the Sunday performances running continuously from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. Underlined for Sunday is the famous Charles Klein drama, “The Gamblers,” featuring Harry Morey, together with a Larry Semon comedy, “Between the Acts,” and one of those interesting Bray cartoons.

Source: Granite City Press Record, September 30, 1919
Courtesy of Granite City, IL Chronicle: A Historical Journey, on Facebook
The Rialto Theater, formerly the Princess, which opened under the management of A. S. Cote, last Saturday evening, enjoyed a large attendance for the opening night. The lobby was fragrant with the odor of many baskets of beautiful flowers presented by friends of the new management, and the patrons of the new show were greeted at the ticket window by a familiar face to the local theater goers, Mrs. Faythe Costley Stroud being the ticket seller. A good program filled out the opening performance at the Rialto, and Mr. Cote assured his patrons that they will always find the attractions there to be the best obtainable. The program for the show is to be found in the Press Record each issue.

Source: Granite City Press, July 13, 1920
Courtesy of the Granite City, IL Chronicle: A Historical Journey, on Facebook
The Lillian Amusement Company, operating the Washington Theater, by Louis Landau Jr., has taken over the Rialto Theater. Mr. Landau will in the future manage both houses. The Washington Theater will be devoted mostly to vaudeville, and after some remodeling has been done to the Rialto, the house will be open for the fall season, on or about Sunday, August 29th, with a good orchestra and big feature pictures. It will be the policy of Mr. Landau to maintain at both houses the high standard of always a good show, and at no time will the standard of always a good show be cut, owing to the fact that the management is in control of both houses, for Mr. Landau, the manager, realizes that he would only be hurting his own business in not trying to give the public of Granite City more than their moneys’ worth.

Mr. Landau has secured the franchise of First National Pictures for a term of twenty-five years in Granite City. These pictures are now being run by the Grand Central Theater in St. Louis, and starting with the fall season, they will be shown the same week, or in many cases, a week earlier than in St. Louis.

The vaudeville will be booked out of the Western Vaudeville Managers Association of Chicago, in conjunction with the Junior Orpheum Theaters of the United States, and will be booked out of New York. The vaudeville circuit shows here will be the same as seen at the Rialto Theater in St. Louis; also the Grand Opera House, the Columbia Theater, and the Orpheum Theater of St. Louis.

For the benefit of the public, who are not familiar with prices paid for vaudeville, Mr. Landau wishes to state, and his records are open to anyone, that the vaudeville that will be booked here will average from $500 to $700 per week. The pictures average about $75 per day, and in some cases more. The expense in running a theater is more than the average person thinks. As the old saying goes, “It is not all gold that glitters,” and in view of the fact by having both houses under one management, expenses could be cut some and add more to the show.

Source: Granite City Press Record, June 17, 1921
Courtesy of the Granite City, IL Chronicle: A Historical Journey, on Facebook
Work of remodeling the Rialto Theater on State Street was started Wednesday by Hawley & Herrin, local builders and contractors. The entire work is being done by the Granite City men, and will be finished for Labor Day opening. The theater will be heated by a new system of gas radiators, which will keep the temperature at 70 degrees in the coldest weather. The first large show booked by Manager Landau is the Vogels Minstrels of fifty people and a band of fifteen men. They will show here one night only, Thursday, September 8th. There will be a big street parade and free concert at 8 p.m. in front of the theater in the evening. It will be the manager’s policy to have one large traveling show each week at the Rialto after the opening. The public can depend upon a new and sanitary playhouse after Hawley & Herrin have finished.

Source: Granite City Press Record, September 9, 1921
Courtesy of the Granite City, IL Chronicle: A Historical Journey, on Facebook
With the opening of the New Rialto Theater on State Street tonight, the theatergoers of Granite City will have the opportunity of seeing a first-class show in the appearance of the big minstrel performance, and they will also have their first glimpse at the beautiful interior of the newly remodeled showhouse. Manager Landau has spared no expense in practically rebuilding the interior and in its decorating, the seats have all been rearranged, new lighting and heating fixtures installed, everything shines and glows with paint that is spic and span.

In the lobby, just a little at the right of the box office as you go in, is a mighty comfy lounge room, with a nice rug and big cushioned chairs and a couch that just spells ease. Newly padded carpets lead up the stairs, and no more will the audience be annoyed by the boys big and small taking those steps two at a time, just at the most tense moment of the picture or exciting point of the play.

The policy of the New Rialto, Mr. Landau states, will be to give the very latest and best shows at low prices, and nothing has been left undone to give Granite City a theater that ranks in the first class. The latest big picture releases that show in other cities at big prices will be shown at the new theater at a popular price, Manager Landau states, and an early announcement will be made of some of the road shows that are to play here during the coming season.

Granite City boosters that admire a good show can do two things by attending the opening tonight – they can show their appreciation of the efforts put forth by Mr. Landau, and they will also see a mighty big show.

Source: Granite City Press Record, unknown date
Courtesy of the Granite City, IL Chronicle: A Historical Journey, on Facebook
George B. Flint’s 1927 editor of “Modes and Models” will be presented at the Rialto Theater, Monday and Tuesday evenings. The stage show is a miniature extravaganza praising the “American Girl,” and shows the evolution of fashion from the time of Eve to the present day, and then jumps ahead to 1927, giving the artist’s idea of what will then be the vogue. The songs are all special, and are by Billy Baskette, who wrote, “Ray and His Chevrolet,” “Talking to the Moon,” “Hoosier Sweetheart,” and numerous other hits as well as the entire score of Earl Carroll’s “Vanities of 1927.” Plenty of pep and dancing is displayed, and the numerous musical numbers under the direction of Estelle Flint is the type that makes one whistle. Five changes of setting, special electric lighting effects, and gorgeous wardrobe make this a most pretentious offering.


City Theater, Granite City, IL      

The Rialto Theater was renamed the City Theater in 1948. The building was later used as a church. The building once again became a theater in the 1980s, and was named the Star Theater. It wasn’t long, however, before the wrecking ball did its work. The site is now a parking lot.




Star Theater, Granite City, IL


The Star Theater (formerly the City Theater), opened in the 1980's, but it wasn't long before the theater was razed. The site is now a parking lot.






Little is known about this early theater in Granite City. It may have occupied the same location as the Wonderland Electric Theater. The Gem was open in at least December 1909.



Granite City Cinema, Granite City, IL



The Granite City Cinema, located at 1243 Niedringhaus Avenue in Granite City, opened in August 20, 2010. The 4.6-million-dollar theater was designed by Trivers Associates of St. Louis and Edwardsville, and was built by the city government with money from a downtown tax-increment financing district, using American steel and union labor. It is managed by St. Louis Cinemas. The three-screen theater is all digital and 3-D capable. It has a seating of 500.










KEN THEATERKen Theater, Granite City, IL

The Ken Theater, located at 3120 Nameoki Road in Granite City, was opened in 1948 and closed in 1958. The opening film at the Ken Theater was “This Time for Keeps” starring Esther Williams and Jimmy Durante. After closing, the theater was converted into the Rose Bowl Restaurant. The Rose Bowl Restaurant was sold, and then was destroyed by fire. The building was later demolished and a convenience store was built on the site. Later, Charly’s Restaurant was constructed on the site.



Lincoln Picture Show, Granite City, IL


The Lincoln Picture Show was located at 942 Pacific Avenue in Granite City. It was established on Saturday, November 15, 1924, by owner A. Vartanian. Prices were 5, 10 and 15 cents.






The Majestic Theater was located on Delmar Street, near 19th Street, in Granite City. The theater opened on Saturday, March 7, 1908. ThisMajestic Theater, Granite City, IL may have been the same location as the Wonderland Electric Theater.

Source: Granite City Press, date unknown
Courtesy of the Granite City, IL Chronicle: A Historical Journey
The Majestic Theater on D Street is making extensive repairs this week. A raised floor is being laid at the proper angle to afford a good view of the stage, and the entire arrangement is being remodeled to make better and greater seating capacity. The electrical room is built outside the main building, thus increasing the seating capacity by forty. Saturday evening, a high class vaudeville, with special musical features, will be introduced. The Majestic expects to give the amusement-loving public the best entertainment that money can produce at the nominal admission of ten cents.




Nameoki Twin Cinema, Granite City, IL

Located in Granite City’s main shopping plaza, but a stand-alone structure, this twin theater, contemporary in design, opened on Friday, July 27, 1973. The opening show was “Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid,” and “Class of ’44.” There were plans to expand the theater to four screens, but this never happened. The theater was under the management of the Mid-American Theaters chain. The theater closed in 2004 and was demolished for a new shopping strip mall and Applebee’s Restaurant.







Original Washington Theater, Granite City, ILThe original Washington Theatre, located at 1330 – 1332 19th Street in Granite City, was constructed in 1910 for the Lilian Amusement Company, and seated about 750. Several years later a balcony was added, making a seating capacity of 1,200. The theater was designed by the architectural firm Charles Pauly & Son, and was managed by Mr. Landau.

The Washington Airdome, an outdoor theater, was constructed in 1911, to the right of the Washington Theater. On hot, summer nights, patrons would be entertained in the Airdome instead of the hot theater. The Airdome was also used for labor rallies and political meetings. It was packed on October 9, 1912, when Woodrow Wilson, Democratic presidential candidate, spoke there. The Airdome remained in operation at least into the 1920s, when the third Washington Theater was constructed.

Second Washington Theater, Granite City, ILThe original Washington Theater was closed in 1923 when a new Washington Theatre was built to the rear of the existing theatre, at a right angle. Part of the original theater became the entrance hall to the new auditorium, with the rest of the original theater going to retail space. The second Washington Theatre was opened December 21, 1923, and was located at 1334 19th Street. It was designed by architectural firm R. Levine & Company. It had a seating capacity of 1,780, a large lobby, and dressing rooms under the stage. The theater had an up-to-date first-aid room, a baby “garage” room, playroom with a nurse in charge, and a ladies restroom. A Barton organ was installed, which could be lowered when not in use. The theater orchestra was managed by Frank Reidelberger. Mayor Robertson switched on the new lighting system on 19th Street, called the “White Way,” and led the way into the theater for the dedication.

A fire in abt. 1946 destroyed the interior of the second Washington Theater. The original Barton organ was sent to nearby Greenville College.

A third Washington Theater was constructed just to the right of the second Washington Theater, on the property formerly occupied by theThird Washington Theater, Granite City, IL Washington Airdome. It was located at 1346 19th Street in Granite City.

The Washington Theater was acquired in December 1928 by the Skouras Theatres chain. In late-1929 it was taken over by the St. Louis Amusement Co. Still later, the theatre was part of the Fanchon & Marco chain. It was taken over by Arthur Enterprises in 1957. The theatre was remodeled again in 1975.

The Washington Theatre operated until abt. 1980. The building was used for live events for a while, but was razed in 1993 to make way for the Madison County Transit station at 19th and Edison.



Wilson Theater, Granite City, ILWILSON THEATER
The Wilson Theater was located at 924 Pacific Avenue. This theater opened on February 12, 1925, with Peter J. Schoyan as owner. The first movie was “The Fighting Sap.” The theater closed June 8, 1925 for remodeling, and reopened June 13, 1925 under new management – mostly business men of Lincoln Place. A new ventilation system was installed. The theater (with a new address of 943 Pacific) had another reopening on September 17, 1926, under new management.

Source: Granite City Press Record, February 10, 1925
Courtesy of Granite City, IL Chronicle: A Historical Journey, on Facebook
Peter J. Sehoyan, a night-rider on the local police force, announces today that he is opening on Thursday, Lincoln’s birthday, a new moving picture house in Lincoln Place, which is to be known as the Wilson Theater, seating about 300, and showing first-class pictures every night, with special catering to the residents of that district, at the prices of 10 and 20 cents. “Fighting Sap,” an F. H. O. production, will be his initial picture. He has films signed up more than a month in advance with F. B. O. Producer Distributers, Fox, Vitagraph, Universal, and Metro Studios.

Sehoyan gives an explanation of the appearance of this second theater in Lincoln Place by saying that so many had come to him with objection against the Lincoln Theater, that he had resolved to put up one that would pass inspection, and be perfectly safe and sanitary in every respect.


Wonderland Electric Theater, Granite City, IL   

The Wonderland Electric Theater was located at 1834 Delmar Street in Granite City. This theater was established on August 3, 1907, with proprietors McPherson & Remaley, and John McPherson as manager. The building also housed the Herald (1836 Delmar), taking up space on the left side of the building, while the theater occupied the right side of the building.

Source: Granite City Herald, August 1, 1907
Courtesy of the Granite City Chronicle: A Historical Journey, on Facebook
John McPherson has rented the room adjoining the Herald office on D Street, and will open the Wonderland Electric Theater Saturday. The bill will be changed daily, and a pleasing entertainment furnished. The pictures will be interspersed with illustrated songs. T. J. Williams, the well-known singing comedian, and the Davis sisters of St. Louis, have been engaged for the season. Admission 5 cents.


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