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Digital Exhibit- The Illinois Theater: A Brief History

Original Exhibit Curated by Perry Morris and edited by Philo Wang

“Illinois Theatre Postcard,” Champaign County History Museum Digital Exhibits, accessed April 30, 2023. Courtesy of Perry Morris.

In order to highlight our growing number of digital history exhibits, CCHM is launching a new series to highlight our Omeka research publications and make them more accessible to the public. Each month for the next year we will be re-posting fascinating older exhibits or highlighting new publications from researchers. This exhibit was originally launched in March of 2023.

The short life of Urbana's Illinois Theatre began with the city's citizens rallying together to create a first-class theatre. Famous architect William Royer designed the structure which opened on the 11th of February 1908.

There were years of success with appearances by famous actors such as Maude Adams, and Urbana's best home-grown talent, followed by years of struggle competing with the newer theatres opened in neighboring Champaign as well as the growing popularity of movies.

The Illinois Theatre came to an end after a few years as the local headquarters of the Ku Klux Klan. The Theatre was destroyed by a fire in April 1927. All phases are covered in this exhibit as history includes events that are quite unpleasant but must not be ignored to fully understand where we came from.

To explore CCHM's digital exhibit by historian Perry Morris you can follow this link:


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