In 1926, A.L. Brumund, H.C. Burnett, and D.T. Webb purchased land, at the corner of Genesee and Clayton Streets, from the Y.M.C.A. for $130,000. Their wish was to create a community center for Waukegan focused on high quality entertainment, commercial and living spaces. A year and a half and $1 million later, the luxurious movie palace named the Genesee Theatre, opened to the public. Waukegan contractor Alva Weeks and Chicago architect Edward P. Steinberg were hired to construct the Theatre. Steinberg had just built the BelPark and State Theatres in Chicago within the last few years. Construction of the Theatre began in September of 1927 on the land on which the old 1912 Y.M.C.A. building stood as well as two other buildings to the north. The Y.M.C.A. had already moved one block west in 1925. The plan was to have stores on the main floor and kitchenette apartments and office suites on the four upper floors all around the south and west sides. The Theatre itself would take up the middle of the building.
No expense was spared in the creation of the Genesee Theatre. The stage was equipped with the newest technology in stagecraft in order to accommodate live theatre, like vaudeville, music presentations, and film. A massive $25,000 Barton Grande pipe organ was a focal point of the Theatre. For comfort, the Theatre was outfitted with the most advanced heating and cooling system of its time.
In 1952, the Genesee Theatre was renovated with new seats, a new sound system, and some changes to the décor.
In 1982, the Theatre stopped showing movies due to economic decline and the rise of major movie cineplexes. And in 1989, it officially closed and went up for sale. The City of Waukegan purchased the building in 1999 and began renovations at a cost of almost $23 million with the help of over 120 volunteers. The Genesee Theatre reopened on December 3, 2004.
While USPR did a quick investigation this night nothing was caught and no one had any personal experiences. But what an amazingly beautiful theater!!!
Genesee Theater - Waukegan, IL
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