Award for Stewardship

Classic Cinemas

Various Locations

The Tivoli Theatre was the first of many theatres purchased and restored to form the Classic Cinemas Chain, which was created in 1976. Willis, along with his wife Shirley, and eventually his son Chris, have restored 13 theatres across Illinois. The Lindo in Freeport, the Lake in Oak Park, the Paramount in Kankakee, as well as the York in Elmhurst—which itself is home to the Theatre Historical Society of America—are all theatres the Johnsons have helped bring back to life.
For over 30 years, this company and family have tirelessly restored a number of theatres, which has led to the revitalization of the downtown areas the theatres are located in while creating a sense of time and place within the community.

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