The Granada Theatre was built in 1937 by the Boller Brothers Architects for the Fox Theater Corporation. It seated 1,200 people in the art deco auditorium with air conditioning. The Granada was known as “The Crown Jewel of Southern Illinois”.
Telegrams from famous stars like Walt Disney, Jimmy Stewart and Betty Davis were sent and they are displayed every Anniversary on December 16th. Over the years, tens of thousands of dollars in War Bonds were sold here. Hop-a-long Cassidy once walked his horse on the stage, Army and Navy Bands performed and Classic Movies of the day were shown. It was the center of entertainment. In 1948, the Marquee was given more neon lights and it glows incredibly bright.
In 1958 the new movie system was put in with a beveled screen. In 1981 the Auditorium was made into two theaters and the famous mural in the lobby was painted in 1985. The Granada closed and was given to the city in 1993. In 2002 a group was formed to “Save the Granada” and fund raising and restoration began. In 2003 “The Granada Center for the Performing Arts, a 501c3 was formed and purchased the building from the city.
The volunteers helped to move the project forward with fund raising events. The theater has hosted everything from weddings, Big Band, Blues, Country and Rock & Roll shows, to live theater events, birthday parties and movies. Over $350,000 in donated money, materials and volunteer hours have brought this historic structure back to life.
In 2009, the Granada was awarded the “Illinois Governor’s Hometown Award” for restoration. Donations from the Schweinfurth Grant, Illinois Preservation Society, Old National Bank, US Bank, Mt. Vernon Downtown Development, Lowes, The Mt. Vernon Downtown TIF fund and many other contributors have brought the project to where the facility is self supportive.
The Granada Center for the performing arts made the difficult decision to sell the theatre to Russell Brown on May 1st of 2017. This marked a change in ownership, but not in mission. The new owner and family continue to work on making the theatre a long term sustainable business that brings life to downtown Mt. Vernon.
The lobby and both storefronts have been completely renovated as of October 2019 and the auditorium was finished in September of 2020.
Check out our gallery to see our progress!
Since the completion of renovations in the fall of 2020, despite a rocky first year plagued by covid-19 and the restrictions imposed because of it, "The Crown Jewel of Southern Illinois" has played host to a multiplicity of various events and performances, such as weddings, office parties, concerts, fashion shows and more!
The Granada Theatre, along with its lobby and storefronts, is available to rent hourly, seven days a week! Its capacity is 912 but is limited to less depending on the demands of each specific event. It comes with two full service bars, professional sound and light systems, a large, retractable screen and projector, and all the chairs, tables and linens needed for your event.
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PO Box 1522
Mount Vernon, IL 62864.