It’s 900 miles away from New York city, but walking through the doors of the Historic Dixon Theatre you might think you are about to see a show on Broadway.
“It’s a gem,” said Tom Elmendorf, who oversees the theatre. “There’s not too many places around here that have a facility like this.”
Elmendorf said the theatre’s legacy reaches back almost 100 years. The building sits on the footing of the old opera house that burned down in the early 1900s.
In 1920 a prominent businessman decided to re-build — this time making it fireproof.
“This was the grandfather of all theaters between Chicago and the Quad Cities,” Elmendorf said. “Quality throughout was the slogan.”
A slogan that holds true because you can still appreciate the original craftmanship today.
“The more you look the more things you see,” Elmendorf said. “The ornate plaster work. The seats. The brass. Everywhere you look you see something different that you don’t see anywhere else.”
Over the years the stage hosted vaudeville shows. Later it became a movie theater.
“What we do is absolutely everything,” Elmendorf said. “You name it we do it here.”
That includes off-Broadway shows, MMA fights and concerts.
Elmendorf’s personal favorite event was the Mumford & Sons concert from 2012.
“They actually came here and performed and unplugged their instruments. [They] walked to the front of the stage and said, ‘We are going to play in this theatre the way it’s supposed to be played in,'” Elmendorf said. “That was probably about 2 o’clock in the morning … I’ll probably never forget that night.”
That’s what Elmendorf said he hopes everyone says after a night at the historic Dixon Theatre.
“You go to surrounding communities and they don’t have this. They don’t build things like this anymore,” he said. “That’s why it’s important that we maintain what we have and it’s important that we change with the times, but keep the ambiance.”