Vic Theatre

3145 N. Sheffield Avenue,
Chicago, IL 60657

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Showing 26 - 36 of 36 comments

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on July 19, 2006 at 4:47 am

I saw a concert here in ‘92. It was a crazy heavy metal band named GWAR. Almost as much a theatre presentation as a rock concert. They had a catapult on stage and the claim was that they were launching shit (literally) into the audience. They also sprayed the people in the front section with fake blood at various points during the show. At the end of the show the lead singer got completely naked on stage and was arrested.

Quite a change from operettas.

LouisRugani on July 19, 2006 at 4:15 am

I was on a THS tour of the Vic one afternoon in 1977, and we were told that in the recent past the auditorium had actually been used for truck repairs with a hole cut into the structure to exhaust engine fumes. That was all repaired by what was then called an “inspired investor” and the Vic was reseated and reopened (under another name which escapes me now) for Indian film programs. (That scenario should bring some hope to theatre preservationists who face what may seem a daunting task.) The predominant wall color was then a deep blue with gold trim.

One other piece of Vic trivia: we were told on that THS tour that the Vic at one time had a library within its second-floor lobby.

Broan on April 30, 2006 at 4:43 pm

Sometime between 1923-1927 it became the Vic. In 1927 it became the German Theater, featuring operettas, then shuttered with the Depression; it reopened for Essaness as the Vic from 1934-1952; it was then remodeled and served for a few years after remodeling as the Plasterer’s Institute (I can’t figure out what the remodeling consisted of) and later was an auto parts warehouse; it reopened in 1972 as a porno house; the next year it was renamed the Roberto Clemente and screened Mexican films. Later it showed Indian films until 1979. It was restored to its current state in 1984, with one of its first bookings being a Second City special filmed for HBO.

Broan on March 27, 2006 at 4:16 am

The Chicago Historic Resources Survey also lists Baker as the architect.

The theater really is remarkably intact aside from the paint scheme and the seating. It’s worth checking out.

Broan on March 26, 2006 at 6:55 am

I saw a rendering of this at the Chicago Historical Society the other day with a Frank S. Baker identified as the architect. I don’t know what to make of that, since it seems so widely identified as Pridmore and it looks like one of his, too. Baker soesn’t appear to have been responisble for any particularly notable buildings.

ChicChas on June 22, 2005 at 8:01 am

You would also pass the Village North, previously known as the 400. Still in operation as neighborhood first run (if somewhat shabby) house.

I sing in a choral group that used to perform at The Vic. On our concert recordings, you can sometimes hear the El passing during a quiet piece.

Broan on June 8, 2005 at 7:53 am

Yes, that’s absolutely true, and I do that almost every day! It’s sad to see them dwindling. The Howard is condos, the Granada long gone, the Bryn Mawr shuttered, the Uptown too, the Riviera diminished, the Mode gone. You would also have seen the Argmore (a liquor store) and the Julian (gone), perhaps the Co-Ed, the Sheridan, the Deluxe and i’m probably forgetting some.

RickB on June 8, 2005 at 7:05 am

Re the 1972 picture: Anyone aboard that train who had boarded at the start of its run would have passed the Howard, the Granada, the Bryn Mawr, the Uptown, the Riviera, and the Mode aka Festival—not to mention the Aragon Ballroom and Wrigley Field. Better than TV.

teecee on June 8, 2005 at 5:48 am

Regarding this theater’s timeline as a concert venue, Hot Tuna performed there on 1/18/86.

Broan on October 2, 2004 at 3:30 pm

Actually, the ‘marquee’ you note is a replacement-in the first shot you see the words -Victoria-Theatre- with boards underneath; persumably, this was used billboard-style, and when this had deteriorated enough it was replaced with a smaller, modern billboard and electronic sign, which isn’t really used anymore. The lighter colored brick is where the old billboard was; i’m not really sure why it’s a different color.