Majestic Theatre - Streator, Illinois

The Majestic hosted performances by several well-known stars, such as Groucho Marx, Jack Benny, Ed Wynn, Eddie Cantor, Sophie Tucker and Eva Tanguay.  

The Majestic Theatre was designed by famed architects Rapp and Rapp

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

C. W. & George L. Rapp, commonly known as Rapp & Rapp, was an American architectural firm famed for the design of movie palaces and other theatres. Active from 1906 to 1965 and based in Chicago, the office designed over 400 theatres, including the Chicago Theatre (1921), Bismarck Hotel and Theatre (1926) and Oriental Theater (1926) in Chicago, the Five Flags Center (1910) in Dubuque, Iowa and the Paramount Theatres in New York City (1926) and Aurora, Illinois (1931).

The named partners were brothers C. Ward Rapp (1860–1926) and George L. Rapp (1878–1941), sons of a builder and natives of Carbondale, Illinois. Their Chicago practice is not to be confused with the Trinidad, Colorado practice of their brothers Isaac H. Rapp (1854–1933) and William M. Rapp (1863–1920) or the notable Cincinnati architects George W. Rapp and Walter L. Rapp, to whom they were not related.

Cornelius Ward Rapp was born December 26, 1860. In the 1880s he moved to Chicago, where he worked for architect Cyrus P. Thomas. In 1889, the two formed the partnership of Thomas & Rapp.[1] This was dissolved in 1895, when both opened independent offices. Rapp's major projects over the next eleven years included Altgeld Hall (1895–96) and Wheeler Hall (1903–04) at what is now Southern Illinois University Carbondale and the Coles County Courthouse (1898–99) in Charleston.[2] His father was superintendent of construction for both Carbondale buildings.[3] Rapp was an independent practitioner until 1906, when he formed a partnership with his younger brother, George L. Rapp.[4]

George Leslie Rapp was born February 16, 1878. He was educated in the School of Architecture of the University of Illinois, graduating in 1899. He then followed his brother to Chicago, where he joined the office of architect Edmund R. Krause. Of the projects completed by Krause during Rapp's employment, the best known was the Majestic Theatre, now the CIBC Theatre. After seven years with Krause he joined his brother to form the firm of C. W. & George L. Rapp, commonly known as Rapp & Rapp. Following early success with the Five Flags Center in Dubuque, Iowa, the new firm quickly specialized in theatres. In 1917 they began working with the Balaban & Katz chain of movie theatres, a relationship leading to the construction of many early movie palaces. In 1926 Paramount Pictures bought a controlling interest in Balaban & Katz, after which the Rapp office gained a national practice. C. Ward Rapp died the same year, leaving his brother to head the firm. The firm diversified its practice away from theatres during the 1930s, and designed a variety of commercial and industrial projects.[4] During this period Rapp was joined by Mason Gerardi Rapp, son of his elder brother William M. Rapp. After George L. Rapp's retirement in 1938, Mason G. Rapp succeeded to the practice. After the death of his uncle in 1941 he renamed the firm Rapp & Rapp, which had always been its common name. In 1965 Rapp retired, and the firm was dissolved.[4] Mason G. Rapp died in 1978.[5]

The Rapp brothers were among a group of highly influential American theatre architects, which also included Thomas W. Lamb of New York City and John Eberson of Chicago.[4] They were responsible for the design of some 400 theatres, most of which were built in the 1920s. They designed many movie palaces, including a number of atmospheric theatres, which utilized romantic architectural elements to evoke specific times and places. Their only surviving atmospheric theatre in Chicago is the Gateway Theatre, now the Copernicus Center, completed in 1930. If murals were to be included in the theatres, Louis Grell of Chicago was commissioned to paint them.

Many of the theatres and other buildings designed by the Rapp brothers have been listed on the United States National Register of Historic Places.

Will Rogers Theatre Post Card.

Majestic Theatre Post Card

Starts Wednesday Blog

 Victoria Hallerman is a poet and writer, the author of the upcoming memoir, Starts Wednesday: A Day in the Life of a Movie Palace, based on her experience as a movie palace manager of the St. George Theatre, Staten Island, 1976. As she prepares her book manuscript for publication, she shares early aspects of theater management, including the pleasures and pain of entrepreneurship. This blog is for anyone who enjoys old movie theaters, especially for those who love the palaces as they once were. And a salute to those passionate activists who continue to save and revive the old houses, including the St. George Theatre itself. This blog is updated every Wednesday, the day film always arrived to start the movie theater week. 

If you would like to support the Here and Again, Inc. mission to preserve historic theatre please send your donation below. 

Thank you for your commitment to the arts and entertainment.

The Majestic Theatre in Streator could be one step closer to restoring its former glory.

On Tuesday, the Plan Commission unanimously recommended the city council award a $15,000 facade grant to owner Katie Troccoli. The recommendation will go before the council for approval at next Wednesday's meeting. Troccoli said the grant would be earmarked for tuckpointing and to replace windows.

"At the present, my plan is to stabilize the building," she said. "Once the building is stabilized, we will move forward with doing work on the inside. I'm planning to bring in an architect to look at the Granada to get some ideas on the best way to utilize that building."

Some ideas she has brainstormed for the Granada portion of the building is a restaurant overlooking City Park or a bed and breakfast, but said she is open to ideas.

Troccoli said she was able to do some work on the leaking roof in February, which she had planned to do when her former business partner boarded up the front. She also is looking for bids to install a sprinkler system and new front doors.

"It's going to take a lot of work and it's not going to happen overnight, at least a couple of years," she said. "The sooner I get it up and operational, the happier I'll be."

Troccoli noted it is not her plan to compete with the Streator Eagle 6 theater at Northpoint Plaza, noting the Majestic has a stage she would like to use for live entertainment and to stream on the web on WRWO's Here and Again, a radio station based in Ottawa at 94.5 FM.

"Those are the kind of things that can put Streator on the map," she said. "When you start broadcasting over the internet, you can reach a lot of people."

Troccoli's long-term goal is to get the Majestic on the National Registry of Historic Places.

"I think it belongs there and deserves protection," she said.

"It's a clean slate. (This is) our opportunity to do what's right for the building and make it the fantastic building that it really is."