Vic Theatre

3145 N. Sheffield Avenue,
Chicago, IL 60657

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Broan
Broan on October 17, 2006 at 1:33 am

The Victoria opened September 29, 1912. Here is the account from the Tribune:

“The Victoria, Belmont and Sheffield, opened last Sunday. Despite the fact that the lobby was still cluttered up with scaffolds and painters and things, the theater played to capacity.

The auditorium is illuminated by indirect lighting. There are 1,000 seats on the lower level and 1,550 in all. The seats are of chair polished mahogany with plush panels.

Sanitation is considered in the rubber tile in place of carpets and in bubbling ice water fonts here and there throughout the house.

There are two tiers of hanging boxes on each side of the proscenium arch. There are six entrances to the balcony from the mezzanine floor. There is a tapestry curtain and tapestry is used to drape the proscenium opening. All modern devices are employed in the stage equipment.

The lobby is two stories high and is wainscoted with Italian marble. It has a depth of twenty feet. Among the conveniences are two rest rooms for women and a men’s smoking room. There are two box offices and the theater is connected with the “L” station by a lighted tunnel.

The front is of French renaissance design and the back, which immediately abuts the “L” station, is got up in imitation of an ancient German castle. The building is 97x127 and is about five stories high.

The Victoria is a popular priced house and is occupied by road shows, dramatic and musical.

“Kindling,” a study in eugenics and tenement life, will be the bill at the Victoria this week. Sarah Padden appears as Maggie Schultz."

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on July 19, 2006 at 12:47 pm

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
LouisRugani on July 19, 2006 at 12:15 pm

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
Broan on May 1, 2006 at 12:43 am

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
Broan on March 27, 2006 at 1:16 pm

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
Broan on March 26, 2006 at 3:55 pm

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
ChicChas on June 22, 2005 at 4:01 pm

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
Broan on June 8, 2005 at 3:53 pm

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
RickB on June 8, 2005 at 3:05 pm

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
teecee on June 8, 2005 at 1:48 pm

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

Broan
Broan on October 2, 2004 at 11:30 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.