Naperville 1920 Flashback: Going to the Pictures
The Masons built their new lodge in 1916 and outfitted the second floor for their own use while renting out the first floor. On the street-side were a couple of shops, but an entrance corridor led to the back of the building and the Grand Theatre.
The Grand opened in 1917 and boasted 350 seats. It paid the city of Naperville an annual license fee to operate, which according to council minutes, started at $15 per year and went up to $60 per year by 1928.
While it’s unclear whether there was an organ or piano in the theatre, there probably wasn’t a sound system, at least for most of the Grand’s existence. “Talkies” were being made, but were not commercially available until 1923, and even then, they didn’t really catch on until 1927. Instead, folks would come into town to watch “one-reeler” comedies and cartoons or short silent feature films like “When the Clouds Roll By
The Grand operated from 1917 until 1931 when it closed down, perhaps due to the aftermath of 1929’s crash. In 1935, however, the space was enlarged by incorporating the street-side shops and updated to seat 480 patrons. Outside, it was dressed up with a fancy sign and marquee and renamed the Naper Theatre.
The theatre was enlarged again in 1950 and received a new CinemaScope screen a couple years later, probably around the time this photo was taken in 1952. By the 1970s, however, competition from multi-plex theaters became too much and the Naper Theatre closed for good in 1977.
The space housed an appliance store and an antiques mall in the years that followed and since 2010, it has been home to the Naperville Running Company. The Masons of Euclid Lodge continue to meet on the second floor and held an Open House last fall to celebrate their 170th anniversary.