The historic Rialto Square Theatre, closed since mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic, will be used as a courtroom for traffic violations in Will County, Illinois, for as long as four months.
The Joliet Patch reports the theater in downtown Joliet will be paid $700 a day for its use as a traffic court, the same rate as what the county pays other buildings to lease.
About 65 chairs are arranged throughout the lobby and rotunda for people coming to the Rialto next week for traffic cases before Will County Associate Judge Chrystal Gavlin. […]
The arrangement allows for Rialto to generate revenue at a time when they are unable to book national acts and hold wedding receptions at their facility, the judge added. […]
In May, Will County Chief Judge Richard Schoenstedt worked out a lease agreement to use the Rialto Square Theatre, one block north of the courthouse, as a temporary branch court. The move is intended to relieve the hallways on the first floor of Will County Courthouse from becoming overcrowded amid efforts to maintain social distancing.
Gavlin acknowledged the theater’s beauty might have a calming effect on frustrated traffic defendants. It also would give many of them an opportunity to see its ornate interior for the first time.
The Rubens brothers opened the $2 million theater on May 24, 1926 — a few months before U.S. 66 became federally certified. The Rialto underwent a major restoration during the 1980s.
The Rialto also sits just a block away from the Lincoln Highway.
(Hat tip to Lynn Bagdon; an image of Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet, Illinois, via Facebook)