Russell "Rialto" Building

The Russell Building was built in Classical Revival style in 1905.

The Russell Building was built in 1905 at 121 - 123 West Church Street. On Tuesday November 12, 1915 Mr. and Mrs. Charles Russell opened the Belvoir Theater. The theater was built for stage shows as well as films with the opening show being Beverly’s Balance. In 1917 the Russell’s gave management to Charley Pyle under the new name Rialto.

While managing the Rialto theater Pyle undertook a side project that would propel him to the national stage as manager of rising football star Harold “Red” Grange. It was Pyle that negotiated the contract with Grange and the fledgling National Football League’s Chicago Bears. Given the name Charles C. “Cash and Carry” Pyle, he was instrumental in scheduling the Bears’ numerous exhibition games across the country and, as Grange’s agent, he secured his client several endorsement deals and even two movie roles. After Grange’s debut season in the NFL, Pyle and his client defected, forming their own, short-lived American Football League.

Together, the two helped give a much needed boost to the NFL at a time in which its future was uncertain and today Grange is credited with adding the star power that propelled professional football to the forefront of American sports.

In 1926 the The Rialto was returned to the Russell family where it was renovated in 1938 and continued as a first run movie house until it’s closure in the 1980’s.

Images

PACA Historic Property Inventory for the Russell Building/Rialto Theater at 121-123 West Church Street, Champaign

PACA Historic Property Inventory for the Russell Building/Rialto Theater at 121-123 West Church Street, Champaign

View: Facing south on Church St. | Source: Champaign County Historical Archives at The Urbana Free Library, Urbana, Illinois View File Details Page

Russell Building at 117 West Church Street.

Russell Building at 117 West Church Street.

View: Facing south on West Church St. | Source: Sam Logan Photography | Creator: Sam Logan Photography View File Details Page

Russell Building at 117 West Church Street

Russell Building at 117 West Church Street

Source: Sam Logan Photography | Creator: Sam Logan Photography View File Details Page

Rialto Facade

Rialto Facade

| Source: Champaign County Historical Archives View File Details Page

Rialto Marquee

Rialto Marquee

Source: Champaign County Historical Archives View File Details Page

Rialto Theater Letterhead

Rialto Theater Letterhead

Source: Ernie Martin View File Details Page

Rialto Theater Original Marquee

Rialto Theater Original Marquee

Source: Sholem Family View File Details Page

Rialto Remodel

Rialto Remodel

Champaign Builders Supply delivers concrete to be hand carried into the theater. | Source: Champaign County Historical Archives View File Details Page

Street Address:

121-123 West Church Street [map]

Cite this Page:

T.J. Blakeman, “Russell "Rialto" Building,” ExploreCU, accessed May 27, 2017, http://explorecu.org/items/show/372.

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