Two prospective buyers — one a well-known former manager, the other, an out-of-towner wishing to remain anonymous — got a look inside the shuttered Majestic Theater in Streator, Tuesday morning along with a handful of interested citizens.
This building inspection comes more than a week before a scheduled sheriff’s sale of the historic movie house at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 12, in the La Salle County Courthouse on Etna Road.
Once the showcase of Streator, the theater today is a shadow of its former self with broken plaster, peeling paint, exposed electrical wires and extensive mold covering walls, carpeting, doors and stairway banisters.
A screen, the 35mm projectors, sound equipment and heaters have all been stripped from the classic structure.
“This is very emotional to me,” said Streator business owner and concerned citizen, Cinda Bond, as she walked around the dark theater with flashlight in hand Monday.
She reflected on childhood memories of going to the movies with relatives and friends.
“When I was young, Streator had three theaters — the Majestic, The Plumb and the Granada,” recalled Bond. “This place (Majestic) was within walking distance from my house, and we came here all the time.”
Looking up the moldy staircase, she wondered, “Who got their first kiss up in the dark corner of the balcony here?”
Bond remembered when she was growing up in Streator — unlike the cable world we live in today — television sets in the Streator community could only receive three different channels via rooftop antennas.
“Viewing movies has changed since then from VHS to DVD to streaming off the Internet and most of us have our ‘big screen’ in the privacy of our home,” she said. “With all of these choices, I would still prefer to see a movie at the Majestic.”
The only local prospective buyer at the theater Tuesday was former Majestic manager, Katie Troccoli, of Ottawa, who has expressed interest in buying the building. However, she admitted she will not be a buyer at next week’s auction “unless there comes a miracle.”
She said, “I have been seeking an investor who can help me with this financing. I am not looking for a partner. I am seeking someone to back me.”
Looking at the current poor condition of the auditorium and lobby, Troccoli said, “Under the previous owner’s watch, he sabotaged the building."
The other prospective buyer, who requested to remain anonymous, said, “The building needs a lot of work, but for the right price, it might be feasible.”
In July, Circuit Judge Eugene Daugherity found the owner of Streator’s lone movie theater, Tim Burke, to be in default and ordered foreclosure. First Farmers Bank & Trust of Kokomo, Ind., filed for foreclosure against the theater in February, saying Burke owed about $136,000.
Burke, who was last known to be living in California, did not respond to the foreclosure proceedings, resulting in Daugherity’s action. Phone messages left Tuesday were not returned by press time.
“Hope springs eternal, and I have hopes for the Majestic,” said Bond. “It deserves to be saved.”
The upcoming sheriff’s sale will be open to verbal bid. Ten percent must be put down at the closing of the auction with the balance due within 24 hours. The property will be sold as is.
Repairs to the building and roof have been speculated at upwards to $500,000.
Looking back at the boarded up theater as she walked into the street, Bond said, “You know, I miss the marquee most of all.”