The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Hoopeston

August 28, 2013

Hoopeston residents try to save Lorraine theater

HOOPESTON — Residents are rallying behind the Lorraine Theatre to save and preserve one of the city’s oldest buildings.

A public meeting is set for 6 p.m. Thursday in the meeting room at Fast Lanes Bowling Alley.

“Our ultimate goal is to preserve a piece of Hoopeston’s history by acquiring this building,” Sue Comstock said at the first meeting on July 31.

Four more meetings were conducted to outline a plan of action, set up a board of directors and officers, and establish an account at MainSource Bank, 323 East Main St.

Comstock added that anyone interested in, or would like to help with this project as a volunteer, should attend Thursday’s meeting.

Interested parties who are not local but who would like to help with the Lorraine Theatre preservation project can also donate to the project. All donations should be made out to “Save The Lorraine” and sent to: MainSource Bank, 323 East Main St., Hoopeston, IL 60942.

A brief history

The idea for the theater was first projected and a decision reached to build the new structure in December of 1920 by E. J. Boorde. The ground was broken in April 1921 at the corner of Main Street and Third Street to begin the project. By November 1921, a roof was in place, housing the new structure. Decorators complete the inside work in Febrary,1922, and on March 6, 1922, the Lorraine Theatre opened its doors with the movie “The Great Moment” starring Gloria Swanson.

The theater’s construction cost was close to $100,000 and boasted the “finest ventilation, luxuriousness of fittings and general appearance of any theatre in this section of the state ... conforming to state safety laws and could be emptied at a very few minutes warning.”

The Lorraine was remodeled in early March of 1937 into an art deco style theater by Axel J. Claesson, a theater designer from Chicago. He painted the portrait of Hoopeston hanging behind the concession as a gift to the city and the theater.

The second grand opening was in October 1937. The 92-year-old Lorraine has continuously been Hoopeston’s theater until it closed in April 2012.

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