Blue Island is full of history, and by caring for two of its century-old buildings that are overflowing with history, city officials are making it a more attractive community.
The Lyric Theater, 12952 S. Western Ave., recently re-opened under the leadership of Larry Garetto, who owns Beggars Pizzas in Blue Island and beyond, and his brother-in-law, Ray Cantelo.
The theater, which opened a century ago, had been closed for over 20 years, and the new owners completed a massive renovation.
Now, the building has a classic but modern look, and it’s hosting movies, concerts and other community events. Amanda Melvin, Garetto’s daughter, joined her husband, Pat Melvin, in designing the new look—and it is fantastic.
The theater can now host up to 400 people. A 29-by-17-foot screen hangs over a stage that can entertain 150 people, and floor seating is available in front of the stage.
A bar can seat 14 people, and eight booths are available. Cocktail tables, four-top tables and rail seating are also available. On the second floor, a balcony has been transformed into two suites, each able to hold 25 people.
A walk-up ticket booth is near the entrance to the theater. A step inside makes visitors feel like they’ve gone back in time—but they can still enjoy updated amenities. The upcoming schedule includes a “Drag Me to Brunch” event on Sept. 11, a concert by Tony Ocean’s Rat Pack on Oct. 9, and a performance by Rick Saucedo, an Elvis impersonator, on Oct. 15.
The theater also hosted the wedding of Garetto’s son, Peter, to his wife, Natalie, over the summer.
Meanwhile, Metra is renovating the historic Vermont Street station along the Rock Island Line.
The station, which was built in 1868, will have its interior completely renovated and will receive new roofing, eaves, gutters, downspouts, doors and windows. Improvements will also be made to comply with ADA regulations. The project will cost about $5 million.
The station, 2300 W. Grove St., was first built in 1852, with the current station constructed 16 years later.
In 1894, federal troops were stationed outside the depot during the Pullman Strike, in which workers at the Pullman Palace Car Company went on strike due to low wages and layoffs.
The station was designated a local landmark in the 1980s.
To build a brighter future, cities sometimes just need to celebrate their past, and Blue Island is doing just that.
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September 11, 2022 at 10:23PM