February 9, 2024

DeKalb’s Egyptian Theatre announces exciting next step for nonprofit organization

The 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Preservation of Egyptian Theatre, Inc., that owns and operates the historic Egyptian Theatre in downtown DeKalb has announced a significant milestone for the organization.  The Theatre has recently purchased the two adjacent properties at 143 and 147 N 2nd Street which sit directly to the north of the front entrance of the Egyptian Theatre.

At one time, the property was owned by the DeKalb Theatre Company that originally built the Egyptian Theatre in 1929.  The property was sold off in the 1930’s and has been commercial property since that time.  It has been over 50 years since these properties were last on the market.

Egyptian Theatre Executive Director Alex Nerad talked about the significance of this news.  “We felt it was important for these properties to have local ownership.  We have a terrific relationship with our neighbors on N 2nd Street and we want to see their continued success.  With the continued excitement and investment in downtown DeKalb, we felt it was important for the future of the Egyptian Theatre to have a say in what happens with these neighboring properties.”

The Egyptian Theatre announced that they have no immediate plans for the properties and instead look forward to continuing their current purpose with existing tenants.

The recent global pandemic was devastating for the arts and entertainment industry and saw the Egyptian Theatre closed for 15 months.  “It underscored the critical importance of revenue diversification to strengthen the financial stability and future success of the Egyptian Theatre, ” said Nerad.  “This property acquisition provides yet another element to secure future growth of the Theatre for our community.”

The Egyptian Theatre located at 135 N 2nd Street in downtown DeKalb is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Welcoming over 42,000 guests a year, the Egyptian is host to a wide variety of programming from touring shows to movies and where over 30 different community organizations hold their events.

Egyptian Theatre donor and board president, Dan Schewe, shared the view of the theatre board of directors.  “This opportunity was one that we felt we had to pursue,” said Schewe.  “This purchase is another step in securing our mission for future generations and supporting our ongoing commitment to preserving and enhancing the cultural landscape of Downtown DeKalb.  Donors and patrons of the Egyptian Theatre can look forward to an exciting and promising future, as our commitment to a brighter and stronger theatre remains unwavering.”

Preservation of Egyptian Theatre, Inc. was formed in 1978 and is governed by a volunteer board of directors.  The board also shared that the acquisition of and financial model mapped out for the purchase is separate from the donations and sponsorships received in support of the Egyptian Theatre. No taxpayer dollars are being used for this purchase. The Theatre is financing the purchase through FNBO in DeKalb. The generosity of the community will continue to support the preservation and programming of the historic Egyptian Theatre.

Thrivent Financial is a current tenant of 143 N. 2nd Street and has been a longtime sponsor of the Egyptian Theatre.  Thrivent Financial Consultant Shawn Blobaum said “as a neighbor to the Egyptian Theatre for 15 years, I was thrilled to hear that they are our new landlords!  We have had a great working relationship with them and feel reassured that they will continue to keep our block of businesses viable, accessible and thriving.”

Named by the State of Illinois as One of the Top 20 Architectural Treasures in Illinois, the Egyptian Theatre is an anchor of downtown DeKalb. DeKalb has seen unprecedented growth in recent years with massive investments on the southside of the City from Meta, Ferrara, Amazon, and Kraft-Heinz. Downtown DeKalb has also seen significant investments and improvements in recent years with multiple new mixed use buildings, new restaurants, and an influx of new residents into the downtown area.

For more information on the Egyptian Theatre, visit www.egyptiantheatre.org.