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Grand Theater

2020 Photo from the Adam Martin collection.
230 Market St
Alton IL

Record #10069  
 Opened: December 4, 1920
 Closed: 1977
 Current Use:
Architectural Style(s):
National Register:
Current Organ: none
 Also Known As:
 Previously operated by: Publix Great States Theatres, Plitt Theatres

Information for this tour was contributed by Darren Snow.

OPENED: 12/4/20; "The Sin That Was His." CLOSED: 3/7/77; "Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat" and "Heavy Traffic." CAPACITY: 1400 (at opening; a later count was 1001). COST: $150,000. BUILDER: H.H. Unterbrink. ELECTRIC: Palmer Electric. HEATING: Alton Plumbing & Heating.

Alton’s largest theatre opened in December 1920, under the management of Roy E. Wood. Berg Plummer’s 10-piece orchestra was featured.

It was managed from at least 1926 to 1931 by William M. Sauvage, who had earlier run the Lyric and the Temple, and now also presided over the Hippodrome. Sauvage also ran W.M. Sauvage Advertising System & Amusement Enterprises, and was an agent for the Streckfus Steamboat Line, to boot. A new air conditioning and sound system was installed in 1924. Publix Great States Theatres had assumed control by 1930, retaining Sauvage for another year or two, with brother W.R. Sauvage acting as Assistant Manager. The Publix office was at 224 Front Street briefly, then moved into the Grand. Isadore Wienshienk ran the Grand from 1933 to 1942 (when he was listed as "District Manager," and J.N. Gould was the manager in ‘44. Joseph C. Hackworth enjoyed a long spell as manager, from 1946 to 1960, and then left to work for Merchants Delivery. Meanwhile, Cinemascope had been installed in 1952. Clarence N. Kulp, who had managed the Princess for years, then took over the Grand as well.

On March 3, 1977, after a double feature of "The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat" and "Heavy Traffic," the Grand put out a sign reading "Closed Temporarily." It never reopened, and Kulp retired.

The only golden-age movie house still standing in Alton, the Grand has, in recent years, opened its doors in the Halloween season as a "haunted theatre." (For more information on the "Haunting of the Grand": 1-800-258-6645.) When the Alton Cine closed in 1998, the city’s mayor expressed an interest in having the Grand reopened as a cinema, but no one has yet acted on it.

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

October 2020 photos from the Adam Martin collection.

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October 2020 photos from the Emma Tomiak collection.

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March 2003 photos from the Darren Snow collection.

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1998 photos from the Darren Snow collection.

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1997 photos from the Darren Snow collection.

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Last featured 4/21/2005. Last edited 7/24/2022.

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