The theater opened on Wednesday, December 3rd by H. L. Whitehead of Idle Hour Amusement Company. The theater was
erected by the Guthrie-Thompson Company at a cost of $15,000. The house had 525 seats and “every appliance to make a
perfect picture”. The theater ran as a 10-cent house and showed films form the General Film Company. Irvington
citizens were asked to submit names for the theater to a committee composed of Judge Charles J. Orbison, J. W. Putnam and
Charles M. Cross. The theater was originally built as a single-story theater in a Spanish style with an oriental motif.
the first year
On March 14th, Proprietor W. Drollinger passed out a hand bill asking Irvington residents to patronize the theater during the
week so that as they wish, the theater would need not be open on Sundays.
expansion and renovation
The property was purchased by Charles Walker and underwent a major renovation enhancing the look and feel of the street corner.
Renovations included adding a second story to the front of the theater for a fire-proof projection room and two additional
rooms, approximately 50 feet was added to the rear of the original theater increasing the capacity to 600 and in some
publications 725 seats. Work also included the addition along Johnson Avenue of three commercial units with three
apartment units on the second floor. The lobbies of the original theater were also converted into two small storefront
shops that faced East Washington Street.
Still under the ownership of the Charles Walker family, the theater again underwent a renovation. This renovation
included the modernizing of both the interior and exterior. Exterior improvements included the removal of the East
Washington Street canopy and and the addition of carrera-style glass. It was also during this period that a small parking lot
was added at the rear of the property with access from Johnson Avenue.
end of an era
The Walker family sold the Irving Theater in 1969 to a group of investors. As the story goes, of the three Chicago
investors, one was never seen again, one backed out of the partnership and one, Steve Toushin, operated the theater under the
Festival name as a XXX movie house. Angry Irvingtonians and City officials tried for 10 years through various legal
proceedings to close the Festival Theater. The theater finally stopped showing XXX movies in 1979.
Zenon I Theater
The theater reopened as the Zenon I Theater showing second run movies and having some live music performances.
the new Irving
In 1987 the theater was purchased by a group of Irvington businessmen and reopened in October of 1987 again as the Irving
Theater. The Irving again achieved great success this time as a foreign and art film house, many nights filling to
capacity. The opening of the Castleton Art Cinema caused a change in direction to second run movies, a drastic reduction
in patrons and eventual demise of the Irving as a movie theater.