Communities formed at crossroads, where lives intersected and common interests emerged. In these places, families built a dynamic community life. In many communities, rural people shared ideas, worked toward common goals, and worked toward a common future. Rural life is community life.
Communities are the heart of DeKalb County. While Saturday nights are no longer the time when farmers come to town, rural communities still offer a wide variety of entertainment, festivals, and special events throughout the year.
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On January 7, 1927, the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team played their first game in Hinckley, Illinois, against the hometown team the Hinckley Merchants. The Globetrotters were called the Savoy Big Five or The American Big Five (American Legion Giles Post No. 87).
Marvel Loring, who had attended the game, reported, “Of course, Hinckley won that first game, 43 to 34.”
Afterward, the Globetrotters split the $75 proceeds and traveled, according to the Chicago Defender, to take part in a short but successful tour of Wisconsin.
From 1926-1976, the Globetrotters were based in Chicago. They returned to Hinckley in 2001 for the 75th anniversary of the game. When they returned for the 90th anniversary in 2016, a sign was dedicated in Hinckley to commemorate the game.
Sandwich Opera House
On August 20, 1878, 25 years after Sandwich first became a town, a contract was signed for construction of the Sandwich City Hall and Opera House. The first floor was for city government, and the opera house was located on the second floor, where it served as a true community center, the core of social and cultural activities of the community.
Over time, the use and condition of the physical building declined. In 1979, a steering committee was appointed to investigate saving the building. They concluded that the best use was returning it to its original purpose. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Then, an extensive restoration and renovation process began that included support from the Sycamore Farmer’s Club.
A grand re-opening was held on April 12, 1986, and the Opera House continues today as a community-oriented facility offering community theatre, lectures, recitals, style shows, weddings, and a wide variety of outstanding performers ranging from country to classical.
The Egyptian Theatre’s roots go back to ancient Egypt. The historic structure connects to the discovery of the tomb of King Tut in 1922 and the rise of nationwide interest in everything Egyptian. The Egyptian influence reached DeKalb County in 1928, when the DeKalb Theatre Company was trying to settle on a design for a combination motion picture house and vaudeville theatre. Of all the Egyptian theatres built at that time, the DeKalb theatre is one of only five remaining in the United States.
The theatre opened on December 10, 1929, featuring films and a few live vaudeville acts. On October 25, 1959, Senator John F. Kennedy made an appearance to a packed house at the Egyptian. Three months later he announced his candidacy for president.
In the early 1970s, the Egyptian was a ghost of its previous splendor. The plaster walls and interior motifs were crumbling away, the seats were in disrepair, the plumbing rarely worked, the boiler was no longer functioning, and there were holes in the ceiling, which let in both rain water and wild animals. In 1977, the theatre closed.
With the theatre on the verge of being condemned and turned into a parking lot in 1978, a group of citizens banded together to save the Egyptian. First, the Egyptian was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. In 1982, Preservation of the Egyptian Theatre, Inc. (PET) qualified for a $2.3 million grant from the State of Illinois. They also received funding support from the Sycamore Farmer’s Club.
The theatre reopened in 1983 and remains a vibrant space today, where it remains busy hosting concerts, plays, weddings, receptions, community meetings, and movies. Air conditioning and an expansion is planned for the near future.
- 1922 King Tut’s tomb was discovered.
- 1928 Architectural designs for a new theatre were discussed.
- 1929 The Egyptian Theatre opens its doors!
- 1959 Senator John F. Kennedy spoke at the Egyptian Theatre.
- 1977 The theatre closed its doors due to disrepair.
- 1978 Listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
- 1982 A grant was received from the State of Illinois for restoration.
- 1983 The theatre reopened its doors to the public!