Benld, IL, Coliseum Ballroom destroyed by fire; preserved by documentary film makers

10:06 PM, Jul 31, 2011   |    comments
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Macoupin County, Ill (KSDK)--The Coliseum Ballroom in Benld, Illinois, was destroyed in a fire Saturday night.  No one was critically injured, and fire investigators say the source of the fire was electrical in nature.

Fortunately, documentary film producers Jim Marcacci and Bruce Logsdon did not ignore their inclinations when they decided to produce a film on the history of that dance club.

"That was about four years ago," said Marcacci.  "He grew up in Litchfield.  I grew up around Benld.  And about a year-and-a-half ago I said let's do it."

Marcacci explained what they learned.

"Dominic Tarro, a local grocer, built it with his brother in 1924.  It was a crossroads between St. Louis, Kansas City, Chicago," said Marcacci.

"They were able to book the best bands that were out there," said Marcacci, "Duke Ellington, the Dorsey Brothers, Glenn Miller, Ray Charles, Ike and Tina Turner.  Louis Armstrong played there."

You have to wonder what a venue and a town like this meant to some of those big stars in their heyday.  Marcacci tells a story about a time in California back in the 1980's, when he met Bo Didley.

"I said, 'Do you remember the Coliseum Ballroom?'  And Didley said, 'Benld, Illinois!  Boy that was a great place to play!"

Marcacci said the documentary about the Coliseum Ballroom should be complete in October.  For more information log onto soundandimage.org.

KSDK

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