The Rialto Theatre was completed in 1926 at a cost of $2 million dollars. The land it was built on was vacant before the Theatre was built. It opened as a vaudeville movie palace and was considered the jewel of Joliet. In the 1970s it had fallen into disrepair and faced possible demolition. Restoration of the theatre began in 1980 and the vaudeville movie palace changed to a performing arts center. A second renovation was started in 2006 at a cost of $6 million and currently there is another renovation at a cost of $2 million.
The "Jewel of Joliet” not only continues to host hundreds of customers, it also is called home to a number of resident ghosts. The most often spied is a spectral woman named Vivian who is thought to have been an actress who performed at the theatre many years ago. She is most often seen in the “Stars” dressing room. It is believed she dresses in purple and loves the scent of lavender. Many believe that she so loved performing there that she’s just not ready to leave this world.
Two more spirits, one male and one female, are sometimes spied in the auditorium’s balcony. According to the legend, the pair fell to their deaths from the balcony, and like others who have died in tragic accidents, they just won’t move on. There’s also a little boy named Kevin that plays mischievous pranks around the theatre like flushing the men’s room toilets and making hangers sway. The legend is that he was hit by a car in the street and brought into the theatre where he passed away but did not leave. There’s also a male ghost named Collin that hangs around the main theatre area. He has been known to flip down chairs as fast as the staff can flip them up. None of these incidents can be proven through research; however, the spirits are there.
On November 14, 2014 TIP along with our friends from BOOndocks Paranormal conducted a private investigation of the beautiful Rialto Square Theatre. The team used the DVR system, placing seven cameras throughout the auditorium, rotunda, and promenades. Members of the team also used EMF detectors and handheld digital recorders. The team first investigated an area of vacant office space next to the Rialto which we are not sure has been investigated before. There had been reports of a "heaviness" feeling when people entered the space. We were unable to identify anything paranormal during our brief investigation but may return. We proceeded to investigate all the Rialto hot spots where we had previously obtained EVPS. We also conducted a ghost box session in the promenade area. However, the spirits were quiet this particular evening and we did not obtain any high quality evidence. Investigating at the Rialto is never a disappointment though as it's rich history and beauty are always entertaining.