A classic theater in the heart of Illinois…..

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The Orpheum theater in Hillsboro stands as a monument to the the glory days of movie theaters, where the ‘silver screen’ brought the rest of the world to small towns. This classic 19th century building has all the art deco ornamentation that made these movie houses the jewel of any town on a Saturday night.


Originally opening in 1920 the theater boasted some 780 seats in the ‘modern and attractive’ building for patrons. Over the years the theater changed owners through ups and downs, and luckily, was kept in good condition. The current owners took over in 2003, moving to Hillsboro from Iowa where they ran several theaters. Since taking over the Orpheum in Hillsboro, the Eisentraut Family has opened several other theaters in surrounding towns. Their secret…..being the best movie deal in Illinois. Just $6.00 gets you a ticket, a tub of popcorn and a drink…..$6.00…..!! Not quite 1920’s prices, but darn close. With today’s ever escalating prices this family has taken a stand to provide good quality entrainment at a price everyone can afford. The building itself is a wonderful example of 20’s Art Deco and maintains it’s original facade.


The sign above the marque proudly displays the name of the theater and above that, the original stone work carving of Orpheus, the Greek entertainer who wooed the gods, and the theater’s name sake, beckons all to come and be entertained. The original viewing room has since been divided in height to allow for two theaters in the same building, over and under. From the upper theater the original tin ceiling and ornate cornices can be seen. What wonderful ornamentation these buildings had!

The ornate upper level theater

In these days of high prices and multiplexes it’s great to see small town values can survive, and thrive, in the theater business…..and at the Orpheum the show goes on….

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-Ed Baumgarten

2 thoughts on “A classic theater in the heart of Illinois…..”

  1. Excellent entry. I was reading something sorta like this a bit earlier. Nice to see it covered. By the way, I need to make my site theme more like this.

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