1996 Photo from the Darren Snow collection
5700 N Belt W|
Belleville IL 62226
|Record #6117 |
Current Organ: none
| Also Known As: |
| Previously operated by: Kerasotes Theatres, BAC Theatres|
Information for this tour was contributed by Darren Snow.
OPENED: 8/66. CLOSED: 8/21/2000.
Built in the mid-sixties, next to the Skyview Drive-In near the outskirts of town, the Bloomer Amusement Company's BAC Cinema had 800 seats and the St. Louis area's largest screen, and it announced itself with a large, impressive (some might say gaudy) sign. Richard Wright, who worked for BAC for 30 years and presently runs the Lincoln Theatre, helped design the facility. With the arrival of the Cinema, the Bloomer chain officially changed its name to BAC.
A three-screen addition came along in 1985, prompting a new name: The BAC Quad.
Though the theatre was leased to the Kerasotes chain in 1990, it wasn't until July 24, 1997 that this beautiful BAC sign was removed by the General Sign Co. of Mt. Vernon and scrapped at a local recycling plant. For the duration of the cinema's existence, the sign was never replaced -- causing first-time patrons some confusion, no doubt, as the building's design hardly screams "movie house!"
In the spacious lobby (the one on the right, that is, built to serve the three newer screens; the original one on the left seems to have been abandoned years before the theater's closing) is a plaque commemorating the first Bloomer theatre, the Rex, which was closed some 45 years ago, mounted next to that long-gone building's dated cornerstone. In the auditoriums, patrons sank into deep into soft, plush seats that rocked.
As the century drew to a close, the cinema's management noticed a few problems with the building. There were leaks and cracks, and one corner of the structure appeared to be sinking-due, some said, to a long-forgotten mine shaft located underneath the theater. BAC, which still owned the building, contended that Kerasotes should pay for repairs, and the latter company wanted to stick the landlord with the bill. Since an agreement couldn't be reached, the cinema shut down temporarily.
Eventually, the Quad's original "big room" reopened, but the smaller auditoriums in the damaged portion of the building remained shuttered. As summer 2000 drew to a close, the cinema closed up shop entirely.
The big, fancy sign shown in the photo was taken down before the theater closed and hauled away for scrap, after which the Quad never again had a sign or a marquee of any kind. Locals just had to KNOW where the theater was!
In the "new" lobby, BAC mounted a plaque commemorating the Rex, the first BAC theatre in Belleville, which had recently been demolished. Hopefully, when the Quad is inevitably torn down, the plaque will be moved next door to the Skyview Drive-In, which is the only remaining theatre property run by BAC.
Photos remain the property of the Member and may not be reproduced without the written consent of the Member.
September 2003 photos from the Darren Snow collection.
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The original portion...
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The "new" ...
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The original lobby.
1996 photos from the Darren Snow collection.
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Last featured 2002-12-27. Last edited 10/9/2010.
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