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Boarmans Roxy Theater


Photo from the Darren Snow collection
149 E Main St
Shelbyville IL

Record #24698  
 Opened:
Capacity: 230 seats
Architect(s):
Architectural Style(s):
National Register:
Current Organ: none
 Also Known As: Playhouse, New Roxy

Information for this tour was contributed by Darren Snow.

Originally called the Playhouse, this theater is located in an 1880's-vintage building that was leased to the Frisina cinema chain in November 1936. They renamed it the New Roxy (later dropping the New) and remodeled it extensively in August 1939, adding air conditioning and other modern conveniences. The movies lasted until 1966, when the Roxy closed with Mary Poppins on November 6.

A paint store next occupied the space, followed in succession by a ladies' clothing shop and a sporting-goods store. By the 1990s, it was a photography studio; bereft of its marquee and ticket booth, it was totally unrecognizable as a former theater.

Around the turn of the century, local car dealer Bob Boarman offered $100,000 to any community group willing to bring movies back to Shelbyville. At first there were no takers, but when an investor from nearby Charleston came to town in 2003, looking for a place to build a new drive-in (!), Boarman brought his proposal up again. The owners of the Roxy building got interested, offering to help the photography studio relocate if anyone was interested in reclaiming the site as a cinema. This time, the locals sprang to action.

Rumor had it that important pieces of the Roxy--including curtains, projectors, and seats--were stored under the floorboards of the photo studio, but in fact nothing remained of the theater but a fairly-unmolested stage area and some old movie posters that had been used for insulation in the 1967 repurposing. That meant a little more work, but there were plenty of dedicated volunteers. The editor of the town's newspaper got involved in a big way, as did sympathetic contractors and the City of Shelbyville itself. Concrete, sand, and labor were donated to help recreate the slope of the floor. A Cub Scout troop cleaned up some secondhand seats purchased from a defunct St. Louis theater (I wonder which one!).

Whether by accident or design, the reconstituted Roxy was ready for its premiere on the 37th anniversary of its closing. Boarman parked classic cars under the brand-new, retro-styled marquee, and the citizens formed a standing-room-only crowd for a free showing of Mary Poppins on 11/6/03. After showing a few more classics during the opening festivities, the Roxy settled into a habit of showing slightly-delayed-but-still-current films for $3 a ticket.

The theater's present incarnation -- known officially as Boarman's Roxy -- seats 230, and is equipped to project DVDs and video games onto the big screen.

 Photos
 Photos remain the property of the Member and may not be reproduced without the written consent of the Member.

1942 photos from the Darren Snow collection.


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Photos from the Darren Snow collection.


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Last featured 3/2/2004. Last edited 2/20/2006.

 
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