Route 66 News

Requiem for The Coliseum

A story today by Jason Nevel in the Springfield State Journal-Register all but confirms what we’ve suspected — that the historic Coliseum Ballroom in Benld, Ill., won’t be rebuilt after a fire destroyed it a month ago.

The story instead serves as a sort of requiem for the former music venue, which opened in 1924 a few years before Route 66 was certified. The property sits on an alignment that served as Route 66 from 1926 to 1932.

Some interesting nuggets from the story:

  • A group of six people is encouraging the Coliseum’s owner to donate its porcelain neon sign to the Illinois Route 66 Museum in Pontiac, or build a Coliseum Ballroom museum.
  • By my count, the Coliseum played host to 11 future members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
  • Shadow of a Doubt, the band that was performing on the Coliseum’s stage when the fire broke out, lost more than $40,000 in music equipment in the blaze. Two of the band’s members were hurt. Electrical problems are suspected in the fire.

With the fire, the Natatoriumin Amarillo probably has emerged as the most historic music venue on Route 66. It dates to 1922, and was converted into a music venue in 1926.


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