Classic Cinemas' York wins Historic Theatre Award

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The League of Historic American Theatres honored the York Theatre in Elmhurst, Illinois, owned by Classic Cinemas’ Willis and Shirley Johnson, with its 2014 Outstanding Historic Theatre Award.

The award, which was presented at the annual LHAT Conference in New York, recognizes a theatre that demonstrates excellence through its community spirit, quality of programs and services, and quality of the restoration or rehabilitation of its historic structure.

Built in 1924, the York is Classic Cinemas’ second-oldest theatre. The company acquired the theatre in 1982, and in 1991 an extensive renovation was done in which three auditoriums were created and many of the historic elements of the main auditorium was preserved.

“We are very proud of our historic restoration of this Spanish-style theatre, and our partnership with the community has been instrumental in achieving great success,” said Classic Cinemas co-founder Willis Johnson. “It is a major honor for us to accept this important industry award.”

In 1993, Classic Cinemas purchased the building next door and two more auditoriums were added. The sound systems were upgraded in 1997. A decade later, the theatre kicked off an expansion project that included adding screens, renovating portions of the existing theatre and redesigning the lobby. The final phase of the expansion project was completed in 2006, bringing the total number of auditoriums to 10. A new LED marquee was also installed.