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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Elm Theater, Wauconda 1950-1984

The Elm Theater was located at Liberty (Route 176) and Mill Streets in Wauconda. It opened in 1950 with seating for 610 people, and parking for 125 cars.

Photo of the Elm Theater taken in 1950, the year the theater opened. This image was used by the Curt Teich Company for their Wauconda large letter postcard (below). Teich Postcard OCH1780.

Large letter postcard featuring Wauconda landmarks, including the Elm Theater in the letter "U". Curt Teich postcard, 1950. OCH1780.

Through the 1950s and 1960s, the theater's movie listings appeared regularly in the Daily Herald.

In 1967, Transfiguration Catholic Church purchased the theater. Church officials bought the property because they feared "purchase by others would hinder the expansion program of the church."

Initially, the theater was staffed by church members who volunteered as ushers and cashiers. Later, the church leased it to Leonard Deasey, whose children and their friends worked the concessions and ticket booth.
Transfiguration Catholic Church, circa 1935. Dunn Museum M-86.1.7121.

Because of the church's control, the content of the movies shown changed. Many parents were pleased that only movies permitted under the National Legion of Decency Code were shown.

Established in 1933, the National Legion of Decency was an organization dedicated to identifying and combating objectionable content in motion pictures, from the point of view of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. For several decades, the Legion wielded great power in the American motion picture industry.

In 1984, the theater was torn down. The reason given for razing it was that Transfiguration "could no longer subsidize it." The new church was built on this site.

In 2012, an original sign from the Elm Theater (above) was donated by Glen Halverson to the Lake County Discovery Museum (now the Bess Bower Dunn Museum). Dunn Museum 2012.4.


Unknown said...

My dad was an usher at Elm Theatre when I was growing up in the 60's and I got to see a lot of movies on Friday nights when he usually volunteered.

Larisa Liekys said...

My little brother and I saw Star Wars at The Elm in 1977 when we were 7 and 9 respectively. We grew up in Tower Lakes, so our parents brought us to The Elm often, and we'd of course go across the street (later Mill Creek and now the eyeglasses place) after the movie to the Dairy Queen for a peanut buster bar! I remember seeing Orca at The Elm as well, and have never forgotten my little-girl tears as I felt so sorry for the fetal orca falling upon the deck of the boat. There was also a pet shop at the back or the side of the theater, I think the name of it was House of Pisces. LOVE these memories of 1970s Wauconda!!!