Memories aka. Last of the Great Theaters

When I was growing up in Champaign/Urbana Illinois one of my favorite things to do was to go to the movies like most kids. There were 4 fantastic movie houses and one that was off limits to kids. Lets take a quick tour of my old movie haunts and some memories of famous movies I saw in them at a kid.
First off is the Cinema in downtown Urbana Illinois, to be honest I can’t remember seeing any great movies there except Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi in 1983.

yeah its snowing, I took the pics a couple of years ago, these days its an art gallery.
Next is my favorite movie theater and perhaps the oldest theater in Champaign Illionis, the Virginia theater! My best memory of this theater was waiting in line for hours in 1977 to see my alltime favorite movie…Star Wars!!! closely followed my my second favorite movie Jaws, there was nothing better than seeing both of these great movies on the big screen! Now the Virginia has been been renovated and will host the Roger Ebert film festival and will show some great classic movies the way they were intended to be seen.


Next is the RKO Orpheum theater, if the Virginia is not the oldest, then this one is definately the oldest. I remember seeing both the movies The Towering Inferno and Earthquake in this theater, it was the first time and possibly the only time they used “Sensorround” in the theater. This was a series of speakers in the wings of the theater that shook and has massive base, kind of silly now but back then it was very cool. Nowdays the Orpheum is a childrens museum, at least its still standing.



And last but not least is the Art theater, back in the 70’s this was the no-no theater where men in trench coats sneaked in to see the latest adult movies, I do remember seeing the sign for “Debbis does Dallas” on the marque. These days it is a true Art theater which shows limited release movies like the on in the pic..The Queen, which was a great movie.

There was one last theater that I went to but its long gone, torn down to make more student housing on the campus of the University of Illinois, the Co-Ed theaters, that was a bummer to see that one go. Well I hope everyone enjoyed this post and drop a comment if you have any memories of movie houses of days past….

4 responses to “Memories aka. Last of the Great Theaters

  1. Good post. I liked them all but I really liked the Virginia…what a beautiful building. I scrolled down to see your SS…excellent ….I really enjoyed all the cats.

  2. The earliest recollection I have of a movie theater is one in downtown Toronto in the 1940’s during WW2. It was a glorious place- big and voluptuous with superb acoustics. The big drawing card for the place was the organist and his instrument. Every movie started with a robust rendition of a popular tune of the day and ended with a rousing chorus of ” God Save the King”.

  3. Thanks for the memories Ed. I remember seeing the first James Bond movie Dr. No at the Orpheum theatre, and Mash at the Co-Ed theatre.

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