Rialto Square Theatre will be temporarily converted into traffic court

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)

2 thoughts on “Rialto Square Theatre will be temporarily converted into traffic court

  1. I recall taking part in a production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Trial by Jury” that used a closed London court for its ‘theatre’. I was a member of the jury, and we all sat in the jury box, and played our part in the operatta.

  2. Use as a court certainly is a creative use for the Theater and a welcome source of revenue in these peculiar times. I passed through Joliet last Saturday, May 30, 2020. The street in front of the Theater and cross street to the south are undergoing reconstruction. I wonder where citizens will park and how they will walk to the Theater. I’m sure the authorities have a plan.

    I attended a show at the Theater last November. A full house (2,000+) was treated to sets by Gary Puckett, Jay & The Americans, Dennis Tufano (Buckinghams), the Vogues, and The Cyrkle. The Theater glowed and sparkled under excellent lighting both in the theater itself and the lobby. The acoustics were wonderful. It was an amazing place to see a show! I’m so glad the Rialto Theater was saved from urban redevelopment. I hope the Theater will be able to book events soon!

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