Will Rogers closes

2010-11-29T05:15:00Z Will Rogers closesBy HERB MEEKER, Staff Writer JG-TC.com
November 29, 2010 5:15 am  • 

CHARLESTON - Some movie lovers lost an old friend Sunday.

The Will Rogers Theatre, 705 Monroe Ave., closed its doors that day. The corporate decision was announced through a small sign posted over the past several days on the ticket counter for the AMC Theaters, Inc. facility.

"It wasn't really publicized much. Most customers learned about it through word of mouth," Will Rogers employee Connor Cuddy said Sunday night. "For some people the decision came fairly sudden. A lot of our frequent customers were upset about it."

The Will Rogers opened as a one-screen theater during the 1930s when movies competed with radio as the most popular forms of mass entertainment. The theater closed down for a short time during the early 1980s before new ownership later converted it to a two-screen franchise.

The theater just off the courthouse square in Charleston was popular with locals and Eastern Illinois University students through the past seven decades. But like many smaller theaters, it was losing financial ground to multi-screen movieplexes, DVD rentals and Internet downloads.

"I really liked the small-theater atmosphere," said Cuddy, who expects to transfer his work to another AMC facility. "I've been here for three years. It was my first job."

The last films at the Will Rogers were "Megamind" and the latest in the "Harry Potter" series. An afternoon matinee and two evening viewings were shown.

The movie theater is dedicated to the memory of popular American humorist Will Rogers, who once said, "I never met a man I didn't like."

Cuddy said he came to love the building with its unique character, including decorative glass and architecture from the Depression era.

"I will miss working here. I came to really like the building and customers," he said.

Efforts to reach AMC officials were unsuccessful as of press time Sunday evening.

Contact Herb Meeker at hmeeker@jg-tc.com or 238-6869.

Copyright 2015 JG-TC.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(19) Comments

  1. Lefty
    Report Abuse
    Lefty - December 01, 2010 12:33 pm
    gringa said: "Be careful now, Billie. Before you know it, AMC will donate the building to the city and we'll have another Rosemont right here in Charleston! LOL."

    Theater companies never sell the old buildings for reuse. They close 'em completely and sell them to other types of businesses. They like to retain their monopoly business model.
  2. grampaC
    Report Abuse
    grampaC - December 01, 2010 6:55 am
    I remember going and getting my 1st.kiss!!
    Also, went there to see the 1st. Black & White (no racism fb,sh,hp) movie of Batman on a Saturday afternoon.
    200 10yr old kids having fun throwing popcorn, candy, etc at each other. A total riot! No damage done to the Will.
    Wouldn't the case today however w/good clean fun replaced with same 10 yr. old kids.
    Totally different culture. Some kid would have pulled a gun or something! LOL!
  3. XTownie
    Report Abuse
    XTownie - December 01, 2010 3:37 am
    This just makes me sad to see. Having been away for 15 years, I don't know all of the details on this. Nonetheless, it's distressing to watch how Charleston (city and residents) are tossing their jewels into the town branch.
  4. hevywt
    Report Abuse
    hevywt - November 30, 2010 10:07 am
    such a beautiful theater in it's day. i remember on halloween 1966? they had an all night vincent price movie marathon. my buddies and i went there to check out the babes. vincent price was there to greet and sign autographs. i vaguely remember the guy that painted the ceiling, ed something? friend of my grandparents. starting to sound like an old person huh? now the sticky floors and smell of urine keep people away. progress? maybe.
  5. gringa
    Report Abuse
    gringa - November 29, 2010 10:20 pm
    Be careful now, Billie. Before you know it, AMC will donate the building to the city and we'll have another Rosemont right here in Charleston! LOL.
  6. Billie Brant
    Report Abuse
    Billie Brant - November 29, 2010 9:37 pm
    The beautiful old theater was ruined when they chopped it up to make room for two screens. I hope someone takes it over and makes good use of it for live performances. We have talented performers in this area...actors, musicians ,etc. that could use this wonderful place.
  7. Rockin Rotty
    Report Abuse
    Rockin Rotty - November 29, 2010 8:10 pm
    Collatine, all I can say is that I, along with many others I'm sure, want to know what's going on, why it closed, & what, if any, are the future plans of the place. You know the deal. Like the others are saying, it would have been nice to know this info alot sooner, but I guess the big fat cats don't see it that way, huh? Like TQ said.... "the sneaky cowards". Good Grief! Now I'm starting to sound like a liberal. lol :-P
  8. Rockin Rotty
    Report Abuse
    Rockin Rotty - November 29, 2010 7:52 pm
    Thanks Mike. I also notified WAND & WEIU, this morning. I was surprised to hear nobody had heard a lick of this thus far. Well.... maybe I shouldn't be. lol :-D
  9. Mike P
    Report Abuse
    Mike P - November 29, 2010 7:10 pm
    City must have some plans. Possibly a parkinglot? Like Mattoon did.

    Paper pulled out of Charleston, so its no wonder their journalism is what it is.

    Way to spoon feed them the story, and spread it to actual responsible local news coverage folks too, Rotmiester.

    Icing on the square TIF cake. It caps 23 years of it, as they are about to ram through extending for 12 more. Now having to pay prevailing wage, because its in a TIF TAX slush fund, may make it far harder not to just level. GOBBAU

  10. Rockin Rotty
    Report Abuse
    Rockin Rotty - November 29, 2010 3:52 pm
    You're very welcome TQ - & I'm with gringa's idea as well. Hopefully, someone can fix up the place & continue to use the historic building. Lilly, you better get your band of merry misfits on this, & get to investigating. I'll bet there's a cover-up involved. [rolls eyes] LOL! :-P
  11. lilly
    Report Abuse
    lilly - November 29, 2010 3:26 pm
    What the TIF!
  12. Sephiroth627
    Report Abuse
    Sephiroth627 - November 29, 2010 2:47 pm
    It's unfortunate, but if the Will wasn't attracting enough in terms of customers, it shouldn't come as too surprising. I, personally, didn't find it to be that enjoyable a place to watch a movie (the lighting was too bright while the movies were on) but for historic value, it's sad when a landmark gets boarded.
  13. Medic77
    Report Abuse
    Medic77 - November 29, 2010 2:27 pm
    Yet another case of Charleston residents not supporting their local businesses. It seems everyone is in such a hurry to go out of town for everything, yet whining when they no longer have any businesses left. No decent restaurants, no movie theater, pretty soon we'll have Walmart and nothing else.
  14. Collatine
    Report Abuse
    Collatine - November 29, 2010 2:07 pm
    Rockn - you want to hold them accountable for closing an 80 yr old building due to structural inadequecies? Or you want to hold them accountable for not celebrating the fact that they're closing a building for structural inadequecies? Or perhaps they should have celebrated that no one had been hurt in that building by collapsing plaster...? Or celebrate that they couldn't hack it in the modern movie era? I guess I don't get the outrage.
  15. The Question
    Report Abuse
    The Question - November 29, 2010 12:09 pm
    Thanks for that, Rotty. And Gringa's idea is an excellent one.
  16. gringa
    Report Abuse
    gringa - November 29, 2010 10:29 am
    Lots of great memories over the years at Will Rogers. Rather than allow it to remain empty and deteriorate, perhaps AMC will donate their building to CAT? Or, at the very least, offer them a long term lease - say, for a dollar a year?

    Just a thought for a way AMC can further the 'arts'.
  17. Rockin Rotty
    Report Abuse
    Rockin Rotty - November 29, 2010 10:20 am
    I'm with TQ! I was notified by a cousin's post on Facebook, about this, & thought AMC is udderly disgusting, in notifying the public via a small sign @ the theater. I immediately contacted a JG-TC staff member about the story, henceforth the article last night & today, & today I notified WCIA. I hope the word gets out so we can hold AMC & the city of Charleston accountable for their actions. Alot of history in that place, even though it may have been closed down due to structural inadequacies.
  18. jacodar
    Report Abuse
    jacodar - November 29, 2010 8:55 am
    Would have been nice if they had publicized this so people had a chance to go one more time before it closed :(
  19. The Question
    Report Abuse
    The Question - November 29, 2010 6:35 am
    I am disgusted with the sneaky cowards at AMC.
Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick

Activate subscription button gif

The JG-TC weekly roundup gives you the highlights of the week.

Get the latest offers and updates from local businesses in this weekly email.

Be among the first to know about special offers from businesses near where you live and work!

Get the latest local headlines from JG-TC. See an example

Don't miss a chance to win big! Get our periodic contest updates to stay in the know.

Receive the current days obituaries in your email!

Speak up


As a parent or guardian, what are you willing to spend on your child's prom attire and accompanying prom expenses?

View Results

Deals, Offers & Events

More Offers

Follow the JG-TC

Featured Businesses

More Businesses