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Duke Ellington performed at the Coliseum Ballroom in the 1940s. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Fire destroys historic Illinois ballroom

Duke Ellington performed at the Coliseum Ballroom in the 1940s. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Duke Ellington performed at the Coliseum Ballroom in the 1940s. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
BENLD, Ill. (AP) – A decades-old auditorium in the town of Benld that once hosted musicians like Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington has burned down.

The Telegraph newspaper in Alton, Ill., reported that the Coliseum Ballroom on Illinois Route 4 burned on Saturday night.

Building manager Kelly Swanson said a local band was playing when members saw the fire and asked the audience to exit. Swanson says between 60 and 80 people were at the concert.

The ballroom, built in 1924, was said to have the largest dance floor between St. Louis and Chicago.

Smoke rose Sunday from where the stage had been in the 10,000-square-foot building.

Benld, a town of about 1,500, is on an older alignment of the famous Route 66.

Part of the building had been made into an antique mall, which housed the merchandise of more than a dozen dealers.

The Telegraph reported that during the Big Band era Duke Ellington, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, Louis Armstrong and Lawrence Welk performed at the Coliseum Ballroom. Guy Lombardo, Fats Domino, the Everly Brothers, Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry appeared there in the in the 1950s, followed by Ike and Tina Turner, Ray Charles, Bo Diddley and Johnny Rivers in the 1960s, and Bob Seger, Styx, Foghat and Head East in the 1970s, and Heart, Ozark Mountain Daredevils and Mama’s Pride in the 1980s.

Swanson said Benld fire officials are investigating the cause of the blaze.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-08-01-11 2022GMT


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


Duke Ellington performed at the Coliseum Ballroom in the 1940s. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Duke Ellington performed at the Coliseum Ballroom in the 1940s. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.