HOOPESTON – Boardman's Lorraine Theatre in Hoopeston has been sold.
Kevin Alvarez of Burlington, Wis., bought the twin-screen theater from Greg Boardman last week. He took possession this past weekend with the opening of "Shrek the Third." Alvarez, an experienced exhibitor, owns and operates the Plaza Theatre in Burlington, a four-screen theater complex.
"I am expecting a smooth transition, but (I) will not be consulting or connected with the Lorraine Theatres," Boardman said, adding that he would "continue to operate Boardman's Art Theatre in Champaign."
Theater manager Ray Stump said that no major changes are expected for the theaters in Hoopeston. He added that Alvarez liked what he saw and was very pleased with the operation, the sound system and the theater itself.
"If it's not broken, why fix it," Stump said.
He did say that if any changes were made, it would be to add some older movies and maybe some specials.
Boardman stated in a brief statement, "My wife, Sandy, and I have owned the Lorraine Theatre for almost 20 years. We are very proud of taking it from a position of merely being a small-town theater that few attended, to one, because of its presentation, known for a hundred miles around in all directions."
The Lorraine Theatre was built in 1922 by John R. Thompson, according to one local history, and leased to the Polka Brothers of Geneva until 1926, when A. B. McCollum bought the business. Another history book in 1925 said the The Lorraine Theater was built and placed in operation in Hoopeston by E.J. Boorde.
The original building had wooden floors and stadium-type seats. Wall fans cooled the room until 1937, when McCollum remodeled and added air conditioning to the theater, replaced the wooden floor with concrete, and installed 800 seats. Hoopeston was the first area theater to have stereophonic sound in 1930.
To bring customers into the theater during the Great Depression, it held "bank roll nights." Once a week, a drawing was held and a cash prize was given away. If no one won the prize, it was rolled over to the next week and a much larger prize given away. This practice continued into the 1950s and eventually was discontinued.
Other attractions included a Country Store Night with prizes donated by local merchants to give away, amateur nights, style and vaudeville shows, and even a wedding on the theater stage, according to the history, with merchants supplying the gifts for the bride and groom.
Arthur Nelson bought the Lorraine Theatre from McCollum and sold it to Boardman in October 1987.