May 19, 2011

Surived Theaters: Their Evolution

The Survivors
This post is related to another post called
Theaters Past & Community Theatre
The last post highlighted the countless theaters that due to financial, economic, and changing cultural relativities of the times did not survive the 20th century. This post highlights  theaters that did due to a culural revival and community's unwavering interest and support have remained
& Performing Arts Center
2936 N Southport Avenue
the official address
geographical location
1142-1444 Oakdale Avneue
This vintage theater is the only continuously operating theater 
in the City of Chicago
1911 program cover
image via Jeff DeLong
a pin - Ebay
The Athenaeum Theater opened in 1910 supported by 
St. Alphonsus Church parishioners as a recreational center serving the mostly German community of that time. The building featured a 1000 seat theater for German Operetta, gymnasium, bowling alleys, music and meeting rooms. Over the years, meeting rooms gave way to classrooms and the theater became a temporary church in the early 1950's after a devastating fire damaged the existing church building.
As of 2012, under the direction of ADP Productions, the Athenaeum is once again fulfills it's original purpose - to entertain. This now 985 seat theater space that has been renovated to his past pristine glory. 
Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps
no significant change to the theater in the 1950 map
zoomed below
The Thanksgiving Fire 
of 1939
photo source unknown/forgotten
The Various Photo Angles
Joan O via Yelp
photo - Chicago Tribune
photo - Steve A via Yelp
 photo - Donald M via Yelp
 photo - Athenaeum Theater
 photo - Athenaeum Theater
photo - Mirko P via Yelp
 photo - Open House Chicago  
 a back stage view
photo - Athenaeum Theater
 photo - Open House Chicago
photo - Space Finder Chicago
photo - Atheneaum Theater
photo - Athenaeum Theater
 photo - Open House Chicago
photo - J.L. S via Yelp
 photo - Open House Chicago
 photo - Open House Chicago
Victoria G via Yelp
 Buzzy R via Yelp
photo - Aaron S via Yelp
titled 'craftsmanship' by photographer
photo below - Mirko via Yelp
2018 photos 
by Michael Trudeau via Forgotten Chicago-Facebook

1996 poster - Ebay
2001 - Chicago Tribune
2008 - Chicago Tribune

this illustration was created in 1935 by an artist named 
Anthony F Dumas - Ebay
A 1911 article about the ground breaking
The history of the building dates back to the turn of the 20th century. Designed by architect J.E.O. Pridmore, construction of the building began in 1909, and by 1912 the 1,400-person theater was complete. Pridmore, who began his work designing homes in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood, was also the architect for other historic buildings in Chicago such as the Bush Conservatory of Music (formerly the Bush Temple of Music) and the Episcopal Church of the Atonement and Parish House, which both are now on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. When the $300,000 project was complete, Pridmore’s style of French Renaissance revival architecture had created a reflection of luxurious, high class living, and the Victoria Theatre (as it was initially known) officially opened. Marks said, “The architectural history of the building contributes immensely to the concert experience. - 14East
1922 photo - Daily News Archives/Chicago History Museum 
The theater is to the right and another entertainment spot called the Merry Garden Ballroom is to the left 
an apparent 1932 ticket
reverse side
Laurel & Hardy's Any Old Port
 1950's - unknown source
photo - Cinema
1957 photo below - Museum of Innovation and Science 
via Cinema Treasures
2005 photo - Cinema Treasures
view from the tracks
and interior view
a 1980's view of the seating 
images - Tuts Chicago-Facebook
Sanborn Fire Insurance Map
zoomed below
zoomed further below
photo - Jam Productions
photo - Sure Blog
photo -  Chris Mutert via 14East
Various Photo Angles 2017
photo - Kelly N via Yelp
photo - Shannon J via Yelp
photo - STS9
photo via Pinterest
photo - A.S.V. via Yelp
the old ticket booth
photo - Garry Albrecht
the architecture
photo - Patti Smith via Huffington Post
above photo - Doug K via Yelp
 photo - Groupon
 photo - Joshua Mellin via Flickr
 photo - George M via Yelp
above photo - Shannon J via Yelp
before a show
below photo - Continuum Wedding Photography
a wedding venue
List of History of Performances 
since 1989
 ticket - Concert Archives 
Rodrigo and Gabriela 
photo - Vic Doug K via Yelp
 Allen Stone
photo - Iwona M via Yelp
 Bastille in 2016 
photo - Dylan M Yelp
 Bleachers 2014 
photo - Kristy B via Yelp
above photo Caroline M via Yelp
Devendra Barnhart & The Grogs 2010 
 from Real Estate 2017 
photo - Vic Jessi C via Yelp
2023 photos - Brian Oelberg 
in the Vic
matchbook - part of my collection
poster - Paul's Voyage of Discovery
This theater was the home of Clubland, "a night club within a night club" (1979-89) that used tons of video screens throughout the night club space. Performers such as Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Heartbreakers, and Jerry Seinfeld have graced its' space. According to the article link above 'The Clubland was a more than respectable video club. But there`s more. Jarvis and Gentry have given the first floor of the Vic an extensive facelift, adding new tables and chairs (smaller and more intimate than before), a bench seating area and brass rails. It gives the room a sleeker, more clublike look, as well as providing more aisle room (which the partners hope they`ll need). ``Our object was to make the place more comfortable."
 above photo - B.L. via Yelp
below photo - photo - Chicago Musical Theater
Opened as the Blaine Theatre, a nickelodeon, in 1912, the theater later showed silent films until around 1920. According to Cinema Treasures from 1920 until 1947, the former theater served as a carpet cleaning factory using the rake of the seating area to lay rugs out and drain the water off. The owners, DeKoven family, used the building as series of retail uses until 1994, when it was purchased by Michael Cullen - owner of Cullen's Bar & Grill and Joe Carlucci transformed the building back into a theatre, the Mercury Theatre, a 300 seat performance venue in 1996 with “Pope Joan”. - Cinema Treasures
Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps
zoomed below
with an(other?) entrance from an alley
1950 zoomed map
labled as 'Club Room'
photo - GoldStar
 Allison W via Yelp
photo - Mercury Theater
photo - Mercury Theater
 chart - Theater in Chicago
 backstage view
photos - Space Finder Chicago
with an entrance to the upper balcony
below photo - Chris T via Yelp
photo - Ebay
photo - Pam D via Yelp
 The Christmas Schooner
photo - Mercury Theater
 Freud's Last Session
above photo - Mercury Theater
below photo - YouTuve/Mercury Theater
I Wanna Be a Producer
 and adjacent to it ...
Venus Cabaret
This theatre opened in 2017 as a expansion to the Mercury; once called Cullen's Bar & Grill
 above photo - their website
below photo - Chicagoland Theatre
April 2021
and down the street ... 
photo - Music Box Theater
above photo - Linda G via Yelp
below photo - Chicago Traveler
1986 photo below
Chicago History Museum
The original name 
of the theater was
The New Blaine Theater 
in 1928
This small theater opened on August 22, 1929, a time when the movie palaces in downtown Chicago each had seating capacities of around 3,000 people. The Music Box, which sat 800, was considered an elaborate little brother to those mega theaters of Uptown and downtown.According the Cinema Treasures The Music Box Theater would later play to mainly second and third-run movies as well as closing and reopening several times. By the 1970’s, the theater was showing Spanish and Arabic-language movies, as well as porn. The theater had become more than a 'bit rough around the edges' when it was closed in 1977. With new owners the theater was renovated in 1982 and reopened in 1983 showing an eclectic mix of classic, foreign, and art house films ever since. 
A publication called 'Theater Architecture noted in 1929 that this unique theater “represents the smaller, though charming and well equipped, sound or talkie picture theater which is rapidly taking the place of the deluxe palaces.” 
Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps
zoomed below
with a seating of 300
1950 zoomed map
with a seating of 772
photo abpve - Cinema Treasures
 photo below
Ravenswood Lake View Community Collection via
Sulzer Regional Library 
A Review
in 1929
Steve Zalusky via Forgotten Chicago-Facebook
a page of shows in 1986
Gail Perry via Forgotten Chicago-Facebook
photo - Gunaixn Travel
photo - Roadside Architecture
photo - Roadside Architecture
photo - Roadside Architecture
photographer Kyle Brown via Pictures of Chicago-Facebook
photo - Roadside Architecture
photo - Music Box
photo - Music Box
photo - Music Box
photo - via Chicago Architecture Center
with a commentary ...
 photos - Music Box
photo below - anokarina/Flickr
Dave Jennings, the theater's general manager, announced the $280,000 plans according to DNAinfo in 2013.
"Since 1991 guests have enjoyed thousands of films that have screened in the smaller auditorium while occasionally taking issue with seats in need of replacement, limited visibility and sound pollution from passing cars," Jennings wrote in a blog post. "The renovated space will present the best in digital and film projection and programming capabilities that Music Box patrons have come to expect. In other words, "Over the past five years the Music Box Theatre has invested in the audience experience by updating the HVAC and Electrical systems, reupholstering the seating in the main auditorium, installing digital cinema in both auditoriums while maintaining film projection, and a complete renovation of the smaller screening room in 2013".
2013 expansion photos - Lake View Patch
Final Product
photo - anokarina/Flickr
 photos - Music Box-Facebook
The Rocky Horror Midnight Production
by Linda G via Yelp
... and view more photographs from this theater via Flickr.
in June 2020
Masks Required
images - Chicago Film Festival
photo below - The Chicago Critics Film Festival
Read the entire article

Once Lost History
in 2024

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These posts are exclusively used for educational purposes. I do not wish to gain monetary profit from this blog nor should anyone else without permission for the original source - thanks!

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