Oh, DuPage Theatre, we hardly knew ye.
Now that the site serves as a parking lot, and given that the village of Lombard is soliciting ideas of what to do with underused spaces like this, I’ve become kind of nostalgic for the DuPage Theatre. Granted, I never visited the facility when it stood. But it was a unique structure.
It’s off that I find myself becoming retroactively fond of this historic site. For a few years up until the theater was razed in 2007, I staunchly advocated tearing it down — anything that would get that issue resolved.
As a copy editor for this company, I grew very tired of reading story after story of the endless debates over what should be done with the abandoned building. And then when I became a news editor in early 2007, I couldn’t believe the same squabbles about the DuPage Theatre were still going on.
So I penned a few editorials declaring that enough was enough. Now I won’t take credit for influencing the events that followed, but the dream of saving the structure finally gave way to the reality that there was no viable plan to keep it going. On May 10, 2007, the DuPage Theatre came down.
I appreciate the sentiment that advocates felt for the historic structure. There are very few buildings like it left, and it’s hard to see them pass into history.
But what advocates didn’t have was money. If proponents wanted to buy the land and facility, I’d say let the thing stand forever. But they didn’t, so their cause was costing other people revenue.
Constructed in 1928, the building was vacated in 1999. This meant that it had been commercially unusable for nearly a decade.
That’s a long time for a prime piece of real estate to not generate cash. And the village was the one left footing all the bills.
Developers were unable to create a restoration plan acceptable to most Village Board members, and advocates had started filing lawsuits to halt destruction. So now the DuPage Theatre began costing the village some real money, and there was no telling how long it would take the developers to come up with something workable to village officials.
Given all this, I concluded keeping the building up was pointless. It’s difficult seeing a historic structure torn down, but how much taxpayer funds are going to be poured into a project with no end in sight?
So now the site is a parking lot, and perhaps the village will find a better use for it. I’m sure officials will be open to any ideas that anyone has.