Today in history: The beginning of Champaign's Park (now Art) Theatre

In 1913, Champaign is to have a new and modern motion picture theater, one that will be the equal of anything in the Middle West. Mark and Bert Cooper are to build a theater on the T.D. Wilson lot on Church Street, just west of the Trevett & Mattis Bank, and work will begin in a short time. The seating capacity of the theater will be 750, and the seats will be arranged so that everyone will have an unobstructed view. In the front and on the side of the house, a pipe organ is to be built. The new building will open to the public about Sept. 1.


In 1963, Champaign police and firemen Monday investigated the probability that a spectacular fire that destroyed the Tepper Electric Supply Co. building at 608 S. Neil St. was set to cover a $200 burglary. A safe that had been hammered open was found early Monday in the ruins of the building. Damage was estimated at $250,000 to $500,000. Firefighters were hampered by thousands of people who gathered Sunday evening to watch one of the most dramatic fires here. The blaze finally was extinguished at about 7 a.m. Monday.

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