Welcome to Teatro del Lago!

This site is dedicated to the memory of the famous Teatro del Lago motion picture theatre and its infamous surroundings in No Man's Land, now a part of Wilmette, IL. The Teatro, as its intensely loyal following knew it, was a unique and uniquely situated neighborhood theatre that operated continuously from 1927 until 1965. Stay tuned for more information to be posted here; for now, here's a brief timeline:

Plans for a 1400-seat Spanish style theatre were announced in the September 19, 1926 Chicago Daily Tribune[1]. We have not as yet ascertained the date of groundbreaking, though the same article stated that construction would begin "probably this week." A drawing printed with this announcement is very similar to later photos of the final product. Architect was Edwin H. Clark[1].

The Teatro opened Saturday, April 23, 1927, showing "Afraid to Love" starring Florence Vidor and Clive Brook[2]. The theatre was equipped with a 2-manual, 10-rank Kimball theatre pipe organ, opus KPO 6952. This organ still exists, perhaps the most substantial remaining artifact of the Teatro[3].

On November 1, 1964, it was announced that the theatre would be razed in February, 1965[4]. This plan was withdrawn, and on February 26 the Chicago Tribune announced that the Teatro would continue operating[5]. Confusingly, this article states that the planned closure had been for March 1.

The last show at the Teatro was on September 10, 1965[6]. Demolition commenced in late December 1965 or early January 1966, most likely the week of December 27, 1965[7].


[1] Chicago Daily Tribune, September 19, 1926, p. B1 "Spanish Type Theater for North Shore".
[2] Wilmette: A History, George D. Bushnell, p. 157.
[3] See our page on the organ at this site (coming Real Soon Now).
[4] Chicago Tribune, November 1, 1964, p. N1 "Movie Theater Will Be Razed for Shop Center".
[5] Chicago Tribune, February 26, 1965, p. B16 "Teatro at Wilmette to Continue Operating".
[6] Chicago Tribune, September 9, 1965, p. N1 "Theater Lights Dim Forever".
[7] Chicago Tribune, December 26, 1965, p. N3 "Plan Wilmette Shopping Center". Plato Foufas is quoted as saying that the theatre would be razed "this week." Photo accompanying this article shows the Teatro with a Speedway Wrecking Co. sign in front. John McDonough has supplied a photo from a similar location in which the theatre is partly demolished, the snow visible in the earlier newspaper shot is not entirely melted, and the same parked cars are visible beyond the Speedway sign.

Other Links:

The Cinema Treasures page on the Teatro contains extensive user-contributed commentary.
The Wilmette Historical Society web site contains several articles on the area.
A newsreel clip of the 1932 fire that destroyed the nearby Miralago can be seen here .

Copyright (c) 2010 David L. Charles, All Rights Reserved