The Madison Theatre opened on October 16, 1920 in Peoria, Illinois. It was built by architect Frederic J. Klein (known for Rockford, Illinois’ Coronado Theatre) for the Robinson Amusement Company. The 1,739 seat theater was originally designed in the Adamesque style and was remodeled in 1936 in the simpler art deco style to ease the maintenance of the building.
The Madison opened as a vaudeville and silent film theater. It was converted to show motion pictures or “talkies” in the late 1920s. The owner Dee Robinson hosted annual Christmas shows where children could attend for free. This practice continued into the 1950s, years after Robinson passed away. In 1980 the theater was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
The Madison was renovated again in the 1980s. The original entrance and part of the lobby were demolished and turned into a bar. The theater became a concert venue in the mid 1990s, with many popular bands playing there, including B.B. King, Ray Charles, Creed, REO Speedwagon, Fiona Apple, the Smashing Pumpkins, the Insane Clown Posse, and Slayer. In 2003 the Madison was closed by the city due to fire code violations. J.D. Comfort, one of the owners of the building, is quoted as saying that the building should be torn down, and that its served its purpose. He estimates that it would cost $18 million to restore the building. The Madison remains closed today.