The historic Wheaton Grand Theatre opened in 1925 originally hosting live drama, silent films, and vaudeville performances and seating 1000 patrons. The venue was also known as the Paramount Theatre and The Wheaton Theatre at various times throughout its history. Beginning in the late 1990s, it was used for second-run movies, and as a small concert hall for rock and roll bands.
The theater was donated to the not-for-profit Grand Theater Corporation in October of 2001.
In the fall of 2005, the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In 2006 the site was closed for a hoped-for full renovation of the property, but unfortunately the project had many ups and downs.
In 2010 a production of the Jersey Boys raised some funds for the theater project. In spite of this success however, on July 10, 2010 the owners surrendered the property to its mortgage holder, Suburban Bank & Trust of Elmhurst. The building has since been vacant and fallen into disrepair.
In the fall of 2011, a group of concerned citizens calling themselves the “Wheaton Junto” (named after Benjamin Franklin’s “think tank” community group from the 1730s) began talks aimed at tackling the theater project again. The group was spearheaded by long-time Wheaton resident Rick Erickson, the owner of a local business consulting company named Bold Steps, Inc. The group has discovered much local interest and passion for the Wheaton Grand Theater throughout the community.
On November 30, 2012, local property owner and friend of the “Junto,” Jim Atten, purchased the building. Since then Atten has been quite busy readying the property for the eventual theater build-out by leading the effort to remove temporary structures within the theater and tackling trouble spots like the roof, the basement, and other remediation activities. He has also been working closely with an architect and the city staff as the effort progresses.