Majestic Theatre

North-West corner of Water and Main Streets, Champaign

 

Opened Wednesday 14 October 1914

An 8 September 1914 story in the Champaign Daily Gazette reported that partners W.W. Wolfe and A.A. Rose had leased the Ludwig building at the corner of Main and Water Streets, east of the Illinois Central tracks, for a motion picture theatre.

An ad showing the program of movies for the first two nights.  The same movies played for two days and then changed.

Detail from an Illinois Central photo taken

circa 1924.

Wolfe had been a grocery clerk for several years and was currently head clerk at Jim Dickerson’s grocery on South Neil Street.

Rose had been with the William A. Johnson Piano company of Champaign, and had recently resigned from the Wurlitzer Piano company in Cincinnati.

 

When the paper reported on 14 October that the Majestic would open that night, they had been joined by a third partner, Fred W. Whittemeir of Champaign, and the three had established a stock company called the Majestic Amusement Company.  They had ambitions to build a chain of twenty theatres within a 100-mile radius of Champaign.

A 20-foot brick addition was added to the north side of the building making the room 80 by 22 feet.  The Daily Gazette reported the Majestic had about 300 roomy seats with plenty of space between the rows.  The theatre was prettily decorated and had perfect ventilation.

Indicative of the era, the paper stated:

“The management intends to make this a family theatre for white people, although a section has been reserved for colored people, but no objectionable person will be admitted at any time.  This new theatre should prove a great success as something of this sort has long been desired on the east side.”

The Majestic was one of many short-lived theatres in Champaign and Urbana.  It advertised for a short time and was included on the 1915 Sanborn Insurance maps.  The 1916 city directory lists a billiard room at the theatre address.

Sources

Champaign Daily Gazette

Sanborn Insurance maps

City directories

Sanborn Insurance map showing location of the Majestic Theatre just West of First Street.

An ad from February 1915 indicates that the Majestic also played Vaudeville.