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Classic Cinemas




In 1976, Willis Johnson purchased the then-deteriorating Tivoli Theatre in Downers Grove built (1928) and restored its much altered French Renaissance style interior and terra cotta exterior. This was the beginning of the Classic Cinemas chain of theaters. Along with his wife Shirley and, eventually, his son Chris, Willis has purchased and restored 13 theatres in northern Illinois. The Lindo in Freeport (1921), the Lake in Oak Park (1936), the Paramount in Kankakee (1931), and the York in Elmhurst (1924) are among their greatest achievements. The York Theater is also home to the Theatre Historical Society of America. For over 30 years, this family’s tireless efforts in theater restoration have also helped to revitalize numerous downtown areas while creating a sense of time and place within their communities.




Classic Cinemas: Historic Theatres

More Classic Cinemas photographs


Photo credits: Courtsey of Classic Cinemas






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