Will Rogers Theatre

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Starts Wednesday Blog

Starts Wednesday: A Day in the Life of a Movie Palace recalls 1976, the year I spent with my husband and a group of similarly-misguided friends, trying to save the St. George Theater, a classic 2672-seat movie palace in New York City’s most neglected borough, Staten Island.

By Victoria Hallerman

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.

After a two year legal battle with our business partner and lender. 
The Will Rogers Theatre has been purchased by Katie Troccoli through judicial sale on Oct. 28, 2016
The project can now move forward.

 
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The Will Rogers Theatre
705 - 715 Monroe Ave., Charleston, IL

Endangered Theater Purchased
Charleston, Illinois

The Will Rogers Theatre, included on Landmarks Illinois’ 2011 “Ten Most Endangered Historic Places” list, was purchased in November, 2011 by preservation-minded owners who plan to fully restore the building to its former grandeur. The purchasers, Katie and James Troccoli of Ottawa, Illinois and Tim Burke of Los Angeles, California (an Ottawa native), also own the historic Majestic Theater in Streator, Illinois www.MajesticShows.com . They report that cleaning out the building has begun and hope to start renovation in spring, 2012.

The new owners learned about the building from the publicity generated by its inclusion on Landmarks Illinois’ “Ten Most” list. Charleston Preservation Commission Chair Kit Morice said the listing not only created statewide awareness for one of their city’s most historic buildings, but also helped local officials recognize its architectural importance. The Charleston City Council voted in May to give landmark protection to the 73-year-old Art Deco theater, which had closed in 2010, sending a strong message that the city supported its preservation.

Landmarks Illinois

www.landmarks.org/preservation_news_will_rogers_theatre.htm

Cinema Treasures

cinematreasures.org/theaters/4290





Will Rogers Theatre T - shirts,  and Sweatshirts are now available!  Order yours now! Visit our store for details!
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  • Dale Rennels

    Dale Rennels Grand Junction Co

    My name is Dale Rennnels, I started as an Usher in 1950 at 15 cents an hour, Don Griffen was the Manager as Reno Bianchi was in a TB Hospital. Don was a Senior student at Eastern and when graduated took a job with Phillip Petroleum, Reno came back and took charge, he was a super boss very intelligent and sort of took me under his wing, taught me a lot about writing advertisements "white space sell" I soon became manager under his guidance and he taught me how to check out the cashiers every night along with the Lincoln cashiers and the Candy counter proceeds. The Theatre was top notch, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello brought lines all the way back to The Corner Confectionary. Things were great, then the Big Studio's decided that they wanted a bigger cut of the gross and made us rent the big hits for a whole week and took 85% of the ticket sales. TV came in pretty strong in 1953-54. Well in Charleston with 8000 to 9000 population things become tough, the Lincoln was running B type movies and then we started shownig foreign films for like rental of $25.00. Then Reno and the Frisina's bouight the Drive Inn out on route 130. Bianchis and Frisinas were partners called B & F theates, with Two theatres and a Drive in over in Mattoon. I had some very good times working and met some of the nicest people, I still remember almost all of the employees, most dead now as I'm 81 years old. I made a list the other day but it's too long to put here. good luck to the Project Team. I think I have some Posters from some of the movies somewhere .I can be reached at daler@acsol.net

    My name is Dale Rennnels, I started as an Usher in 1950 at 15 cents an hour, Don Griffen was the Manager as Reno Bianchi was in a TB Hospital. Don was a Senior student at Eastern and when graduated took a job with Phillip Petroleum, Reno came back and took charge, he was a super boss very intelligent and sort of took me under his wing, taught me a lot about writing advertisements "white space sell" I soon became manager under his guidance and he taught me how to check out the cashiers every night along with the Lincoln cashiers and the Candy counter proceeds. The Theatre was top notch, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello brought lines all the way back to The Corner Confectionary. Things were great, then the Big Studio's decided that they wanted a bigger cut of the gross and made us rent the big hits for a whole week and took 85% of the ticket sales. TV came in pretty strong in 1953-54. Well in Charleston with 8000 to 9000 population things become tough, the Lincoln was running B type movies and then we started shownig foreign films for like rental of $25.00. Then Reno and the Frisina's bouight the Drive Inn out on route 130. Bianchis and Frisinas were partners called B & F theates, with Two theatres and a Drive in over in Mattoon. I had some very good times working and met some of the nicest people, I still remember almost all of the employees, most dead now as I'm 81 years old. I made a list the other day but it's too long to put here. good luck to the Project Team. I think I have some Posters from some of the movies somewhere .I can be reached at daler@acsol.net

  • chris

    chris charleston

    Hi my name is chris, i am glad to.hear that tbis.theatre will ne restored to.its original appearance when it was first opened i am willing to donate some hours of my time to.help restore the buikdings on labor i can.do.things like.drywall amd decking,painting find me.on facebook chris.dare

    Hi my name is chris, i am glad to.hear that tbis.theatre will ne restored to.its original appearance when it was first opened i am willing to donate some hours of my time to.help restore the buikdings on labor i can.do.things like.drywall amd decking,painting find me.on facebook chris.dare

  • Norma Witters Klaus

    Norma Witters Klaus IL

    I began working there at the Candy Bar when I was 15. Rino Bianci hired me. His father, Tony Bianci owned the theater. When I was 16 I got to be cashier, mostly at the Lincoln Theater, but each night we started and ended at the Will Rogers with our checkout. I worked there until I was 18 and loved every minute of it.

    I began working there at the Candy Bar when I was 15. Rino Bianci hired me. His father, Tony Bianci owned the theater. When I was 16 I got to be cashier, mostly at the Lincoln Theater, but each night we started and ended at the Will Rogers with our checkout. I worked there until I was 18 and loved every minute of it.

  • Jeanne Thomas

    Jeanne Thomas Charleston lL

    I was born in Charleston lL. When I first went to this theater it cost 16 cents and it then went up to 25 cents. Every time I went to this theater I was so overwhelmed by its beauty. I went to this theater every Saturday and Sunday afternoon. My sister worked at this theater when she was 16 years old. So many great memories!

    I was born in Charleston lL. When I first went to this theater it cost 16 cents and it then went up to 25 cents. Every time I went to this theater I was so overwhelmed by its beauty. I went to this theater every Saturday and Sunday afternoon. My sister worked at this theater when she was 16 years old. So many great memories!

  • Mark

    Mark Manteno, Illinois

    You have a great start to opening nite. There are so many different types of entertainment outside of the first run movie business. It will happen, it just takes sooooooo long for everything to come together. Mark

    You have a great start to opening nite. There are so many different types of entertainment outside of the first run movie business. It will happen, it just takes sooooooo long for everything to come together. Mark

  • bobby craig

    bobby craig 2908 western ave

    cant wait till it opens back up so many great memories there from when I was younger

    cant wait till it opens back up so many great memories there from when I was younger

  • Brent

    Brent Ottawa

    Katie & Company, I wish you all the best as you work to restore this Art Decco gem. It may take you some time and a lot of hard work,but it will be well worth it. The City of Charleston will be much the better for your efforts.

    Katie & Company,

    I wish you all the best as you work to restore this Art Decco gem. It may take you some time and a lot of hard work,but it will be well worth it. The City of Charleston will be much the better for your efforts.