Village North/Visionary Theatre closes
CHICAGO, IL — “We’re sorry, the number you are trying to reach 773-764-9100 is not able to receive incoming calls at this time.” So said the ominous pre-recorded message when I tried to call the Visionary/Village North Theatre to find out what was playing.
And so it has happened, the oldest operating movie theatre in Chicago has closed. It was originally opened in 1912, thus barely missing its 100th aniversary by three years. The theatre had run through many names. Originally known as the Regent, it later became the 400, the 400 Twin, the Village North, and in its final months of operation, the Visionary.
It might seem rather surprising that this theatre did close. After all, it was the only movie theatre remaining in Rogers Park. While it had no parking lot, it certainly received significant walk-in trade from the community, especially students from Loyola. It featured first-run movies at discount prices. So if it was not a lack of ticket sales, what did the Village North in?
The problem was management. The troubles of its recent operator, Village Entertainment, were legendary on this site and others. And Village Entertainment, as a company, was involuntarily dissolved in Summer, 2008. It may well be that the only theatre to make it out of Village Entertainment alive might be the North Riverside, although it appears that the Golf Glen is getting a new lease on life.
One also wonders why it operated as “Visionary Theatres” for only a few months. Perhaps they were running out the lease on the place?
And so nearly a century of films has come to an end for the theatre at 6746 N. Sheridan Road. Will this be the end? Or, as the page for the Village North once said, the theatre has always come back!