Virginia Theater

The Virginia Theater was constructed in 1920 in the Spanish Renaissance style.

For over 80 years the Virginia Theater has served and queen of downstate theaters. This 1,800 seat movie palace, designed by C. Howard Crane and Kenneth Franzheim, opened on December 28, 1921. The building combines Spanish and Italian Renaissance styles with Spanish conquistador medallions adorning the front of the upper balcony. The current marquee is the second to showcase the Virginia as seen in these early photographs.
The original square marquee was abandoned for a more modern neon lit display. One of the Virginia’s most prized possessions is the original working Wurlitzer pipe organ that still bellows music before each classic film showing.

The theater has had several owners over the years. Like the Orpheum Theater, these included RKO and Keresotas Theater Company. Following the final new release film on February 13, 1992 the theater closed its doors for good. Following the closure a number of ventures left the Virginia under ever changing ownership and management. In an effort to save the theater it was purchased by the City of Champaign and transferred to the Champaign Park District where is remains today. The theater now serves as a focal point for a revitalized Downtown and plays hosts to the annual Roger Ebert Film Festival which draws nationwide attention each April.

Images

Virginia Theater

Virginia Theater

View: Facing South on Park Ave. | Source: Sam Logan Photography | Creator: Sam Logan Photography View File Details Page

PACA Historic Property Inventory for the Virginia Theater at 201-203 West Park Avenue, Champaign

PACA Historic Property Inventory for the Virginia Theater at 201-203 West Park Avenue, Champaign

Source: Champaign County Historical Archives at The Urbana Free Library, Urbana, Illinois View File Details Page

Virginia Theater Marquee

Virginia Theater Marquee

View: Facing West on south side of Park Ave. | Source: Sam Logan Photography | Creator: Sam Logan Photography View File Details Page

Virginia Theater Marquee displaying Miracle on 34th Street

Virginia Theater Marquee displaying Miracle on 34th Street

Source: Champaign County Archives View File Details Page

Virginia Theater stage in the 1960s

Virginia Theater stage in the 1960s

Source: Champaign County Archives View File Details Page

Virginia Theater Marquee, 1947

Virginia Theater Marquee, 1947

Source: Champaign County Archives View File Details Page

Virginia Theater Entryway

Virginia Theater Entryway

Source: Champaign County Archives View File Details Page

Man painting the Virginia Theater

Man painting the Virginia Theater

Source: TJ Blakeman View File Details Page

Virginia Theater

Virginia Theater

Source: TJ Blakeman View File Details Page

Virginia Theater

Virginia Theater

Source: TJ Blakeman View File Details Page

People painting at the Virginia Theater

People painting at the Virginia Theater

Source: TJ Blakeman View File Details Page

Restoring the Virginia Theater

Restoring the Virginia Theater

Source: TJ Blakeman View File Details Page

Virginia Theater

Virginia Theater

Source: TJ Blakeman View File Details Page

Outside of Virginia Theater with old marquee

Outside of Virginia Theater with old marquee

Source: TJ Blakeman View File Details Page

Outside of Virginia Theater with new marquee

Outside of Virginia Theater with new marquee

Source: TJ Blakeman View File Details Page

Virginia Theater Marquee, 1949

Virginia Theater Marquee, 1949

Source: Champaign County Archives View File Details Page

Virginia Theater Marquee, 1930

Virginia Theater Marquee, 1930

Source: Champaign County Archives View File Details Page

Virginia Theater Original Marquee

Virginia Theater Original Marquee

Source: Champaign County Archives View File Details Page

Virginia Theater Interior

Virginia Theater Interior

Source: Champaign County Archives View File Details Page

Street Address:

201 West Park Street [map]

Cite this Page:

T.J. Blakeman, “Virginia Theater,” ExploreCU, accessed June 23, 2017, http://explorecu.org/items/show/365.

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