Village Art Theatre closes
CHICAGO, IL — “Thats all folks, Theater Closed”
That’s what the marquee read on the Village Art Theatre. And so closes one of Chicagoland’s oldest surviving cinemas. It began operation in 1916 as the Germania, later changing its name to the Parkside. It was also known as the Gold Coast, the Globe and most recently alternated between being called Village and Village Art. Up until the 1990s, it remained a single screen and was well known for showing off-beat fare, second run fare, and midnight movies. In the 1990s, it was carved up into 4 screens, perhaps to better compete with the nearby Piper’s Alley, and losing much of its character in the process.
In the late 1990s, Village Entertainment incorporated and started taking over other cinemas, beginning with the Village North, then many theatres which were a part of the ill-fated Meridian chain, and most recently the Lincoln Village and the North Riverside. Village’s finances and business practices were questionable, however, and no sooner would Village Entertainment take over a place, it would close several others. Since 2006, Village Entertainment closed the Golf Glen, the Pemberton, the Lakehurst, the Belvedere and a few others.
In 2006, a sign went up on the marquee stating “FOR RENT—SUMMER 2006.” Speculation ran as to what that was all about. However a couple of Cinema Treasures fans, one of whom worked for Village, said that the company wasn’t paying its rent. The company did renew the lease for one more year, but the sign remained up. Still, with the right movie, the place could draw a crowd and it did remain popular with the locals.
Cinemark Fan and I last year did a “Dead Pool” for the next Village Entertainment cinema to close. We were wrong because we speculated it would be the Bloomingdale Court. They sure didn’t waste any time closing this place after the lease was up! Here’s hoping someone can buy it and make a go of it—but that is doubtful in this day and age. And with its namesake cinema closed, the end can’t be far for Village Entertainment as a chain.