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Chicago Tribune: Des Plaines Theatre set to reopen after a $6.6M restoration

It survived a bomb and a fire, was nearly turned into a bank, and languished for years in darkness, its future uncertain.  Now, the Des Plaines Theatre is being reborn.  With $6.6 million worth of restorations and a partnership with a Chicago-based entertainment company, the 96-year-old art deco theater could see its first audience in years next month.

Purchased by the city of Des Plaines for $1.2 million in 2018, the former vaudeville theater at 1476 Miner St. has been completely remodeled, though original elements that could be restored, like the tile in the lobby and the art deco style stage front, have been maintained, said Des Plaines City Manager Michael Bartholomew. “It ended up being more of a renovation project than we thought it would be,” he acknowledged. “The building is 100 years old and it looks like it was never maintained over those 100 years.”

For decades, a wall divided the building into two movie theaters, the screens hiding the stage.

The marquee, which according to the Des Plaines History Center was added in 1936, was rebuilt to look nearly identical to the original, though it features LED lights and electronic messaging, Bartholomew said.  The second floor, still bearing damage from a 1982 fire, was rebuilt and will house the Bourbon ‘n Brass Speakeasy. Des Pizza, a restaurant described as a “rock ‘n’ roll pizza experience,” is also slated to open in the building. The concept is similar to the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles, another onetime vaudeville house operated by Onesti Entertainment, which features live concerts and a Roaring ‘20s-themed speakeasy club and bar.

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