In 1920, Leonard G. Rorer, then manager of Dixon’s Family Theatre, announced he had purchased the site of the old Opera House in downtown Dixon “for the purpose of erecting the finest show house to be found between Chicago and Des Moines and from Rockford to LaSalle”. The Dixon Opera House had opened in 1876 and was the entertainment center of the area until it was destroyed by fire in early 1920. On March 15, 1922, the Dixon Evening Telegraph announced in its headline the opening of the new Dixon Theatre. A large picture of the theatre’s façade had a prominent position on the front page and several columns were devoted to a description of the interior features and decorations.
In 1922, the Dixon Theatre cost $200,000.00 to build and the local architect was William J. McAlpine, who also designed the Lee County Courthouse, the Old Post Office, and the Dixon National Bank among other public buildings. The theater, which was designed for vaudeville and later used as a movie theater, has a large stage, orchestra pit, beautiful domed ceiling which is phenomenal for natural acoustics and many other amenities necessary for the performing arts.
For several decades, the Dixon Theatre offered the Dixon area a beautiful, grand facility. Many people from this area have fond memories of dates to movies, and many area young people were introduced to plays, opera and ballet at the Dixon Theatre. The Theatre is currently a rental facility and provides a place for organizations to hold all kinds of events at user-friendly prices. Several times a year, fundraisers for the theater help to defray expenses. The Theatre accommodates live stage productions, concerts, opera, ballet, classic films, lectures, meetings, seminars and conferences.
Photo captured July 14, 2019.
New photos posted on most Mondays through Thursdays.
All photos are copyrighted and may not be reproduced or distributed without my expressed, written consent.