Elmhurst, IL – The League of Historic American Theatres recently presented Classic Cinemas’ owners Willis and Shirley Johnson with the Outstanding Historic Theatre Award for the York Theatre in Elmhurst.

The award, which was presented at the 2014 annual Conference at the New York City Center, 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.

An award-winning theatre demonstrates excellence through significant achievement, the impact of its services and breadth of populations served and the length of time and/or intensity of its activities.

Built in 1924, the York Theatre, 150 N. York St., 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 installed, bringing even more light and life to York Street. 

The York Theatre celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2004 and received an historical marker from the Elmhurst Historical Museum. 

About Classic Cinemas

Classic Cinemas, based in Downers Grove, Illinois, is a family-owned company operated by Willis, Shirley and Chris Johnson. Established in 1978, Classic Cinemas operates 13 theatres, which comprise 104 screens in the northern Illinois area, with each auditorium equipped with state-of-the-art digital projection and sound technology.  Classic Cinemas recently celebrated its 35th anniversary as the hometown theatre to moviegoers.  For more information on Classic Cinemas, please visit www.classiccinemas.com.