716 11th Street
1978: The Building was remodeled and purchased by Golden Rule Insurance Co. from Frisina Enterprises, Inc.
Oct 1978: The last movie to be shown at the Avalon Theatre was “Grease”.
1956: Frisina purchased the Avalon from the owners and made extensive remodeling and alterations to the entire structure-inside and out.
1970: Another remodeling occurred.
1936-1956: Frisina Enterprises, Inc. leased the theater from Hurley B. Gould and George Smith for $800 a month. This continued until Frisina purchased property intending to build their own theater. H. Earl Stevens, was the manager of the Avalon Theatre from 1936-1971 with Robert Brown becoming the projection operator in 1937. Fred Maberry Jr. was the usher in 1941. In 1971 upon Steven's retirement, Jim Totten became the manager.
New opera seats were installed and the marguqee completely changed, having a new lighting system and a different color scheme in 1941. Mr. Stevens designed and cut out the parts to be installed for the sign himself.
1930: Space in the south part of the building was leased to J. H. Tanner, who ran an electric shop. It is unknown when this space was combined with the main part of the theater, but it can be seen in an early photo. In 1925 H. T. Jarvis, a real estate broker, had an office in this space, and an advertisement has been found indicating that Wayne S. Leighty had an office here as an agent for the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co.
March 24, 1924: The Scaramouche, a silent film, was the opening show of the Avalon Theatre following its construction. The building held 515 seats including those in the balcony. It was one of the first theaters in Southern Illinois to have luxurious padded seats and thick velvet curtains adorning the spacious stage. The orchestra pit and a special center theater section were also draped with matching velvet curtains hanging on heavy brass poles. The special seating section contained upholstered armchairs and was used only by the theater owners and their invited guests.
November 10, 1923: Plans and specifications were prepared by a St.Louis architect and bids would let for the immediate construction of the new building for Hurley B Gould’s theatre.
May 20, 1920: Hurley B. Gould and husband Clyde Gould, (dba Theatre Company Incorporated) and George Smith razed the Roberts’ house according to an early newspaper article.
April 1920: A deal was closed for the erection of a $40,000 modern picture and vaudeville house on the J. O. Smith lot, between the Citizens Telephone and the Busse buildings on Eleventh street. The property was sold to the Hurley B. Gould Theatres, a company organized in Bridgeport in 1914, for $10,500. The lot had a frontage of 40 feet on Eleventh street, and was 113 feet deep.
1909 -1920: In April 1909 Lyman W Emmons Funeral Parlor was opened in the Roberts' house.
1866-1900?: Although research is not complete on the first owners of this location, the obituary of Mrs. Elizabeth Roberts published on January 12, 1927, in the Lawrence County News described the Roberts house. “Years ago, the T. W. Roberts home on the east side of the square was one of the social centers of Lawrenceville, with Mrs. (Elizabeth Pritchett) Roberts taking an active part in the affairs of the day. It was a favorite gathering place for the young people, and many of the older residents well remember the many parties and functions in the big house.”
Mr. and Mrs. T. W. Roberts located in Lawrenceville about 1866, where Mr. Roberts engaged in a general merchandising business across the square now known as 703 12th Street for thirty years. Mrs. Roberts lived in the house until at least 1900 when her husband died. Research is still necessary to determine if T. W. Roberts was the original builder of the home described above and the date it was built.