Pictorial History of Mattoon's Theaters

Built in the summer of 1896, the Mattoon theater opened with Clay Clements in "The New Dominion", as well as "The Bells" the next night (Sept. 23, 1896).
It cost $25,000 to build the 3 floor theater, which included 6 dressing rooms, 10 proscenium boxes, 2 balconies, and steam heat. 
 
 

Photograph courtesy of Local History Room, Mattoon Public Library
 


 
 
A scene looking down Broadway, c. 1900, the street that housed Mattoon's theaters at the turn of the century. 

Photograph courtesy of Local History Room, Mattoon Public Library


 
 
Right:
The Dole Opera House opened in 1896 as the first vaudeville-based theater in Mattoon.

Left:
The Time Theater opened in 1937, one of the last theaters to open in downtown Mattoon to date.
 

Photograph courtesy of Local History Room, Mattoon Public Library


 
 
Left:
Children were often entertainers as seen in this marriage portrayal at the Dole Opera House in 1912.

Right:
Children also the largest audience to attend theaters, as seen outside the Mattoon Theater c. 1920.

Photograph courtesy of Local History Room, Mattoon Public Library


 
 
Minstrel show as part of the Philharmonic theater group, October 29, 1898.
 

Photograph courtesy of Local History Room, Mattoon Public Library
 


 
As these movie ads show, community leaders in the first quarter of the 20th c. were upset by the vulgarity of some movies.  Many reformers in Mattoon sought to protect children from such immoral forms of entertainment.

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