Comments from Broan

Showing 26 - 50 of 2,146 comments

Broan commented about Belpark Theatre on May 25, 2015 at 8:08 am

It looks like they did a nice job. Before:

Construction videos: Video 1: Video 2: Video 3:

They seem to have preserved and exposed most of what remained, and walled over the rest. They partitioned off the rear part of the auditorium into classroom-type space. I’m sure they intend to dismantle that and move those functions to storefront spaces as their congregation grows. The one odd thing I noticed in the video was that the lunettes at the top of each archway in the theatre were removed for some reason.

Broan commented about Broadway Strand Theatre on May 3, 2015 at 1:48 pm

Joe, The HARGIS system was redesigned and the report from my first comment is now Here. I don’t know if that’s a permanent link, so to find it in the future, the HARGIS system is at and you’d search for Broadway-Strand. Page 2 of the report still lists J.H. Gernfeld as architect. However, as you note, other, more primary, sources list Levy. But contrary to your suggestion, J.H. Gernfeld was an actual theater architect in Chicago, responsible for at least a renovation of the Marlowe per p136 of Konrad Schiecke’s Historic Movie Theaters in Illinois. So it’s possible that Levy was the original architect and Gernfeld did a renovation.

Broan commented about Wilmette Theatre on Apr 12, 2015 at 8:32 am

I recently posted a still from an industrial film featuring the Wilmette.

Broan commented about Liberty Theatre on Feb 21, 2015 at 8:17 am

Built by John S. Ahamnos, who also built the New Apollo at Pulaski & North

Broan commented about Central Park Theatre on Feb 1, 2015 at 7:12 am

Probably was remodeled early on to provide a larger stage and screen.

Broan commented about Liberty Theatre on Nov 30, 2014 at 12:10 pm

Earlier this year, it was renamed the Diamond Garden, and the exterior has been remodeled slightly.

Broan commented about Liberty Theatre on Nov 30, 2014 at 12:10 pm

I don’t think this was ever named Garden Theater. It closed as the Liberty sometime in 1951 and became the Marcin Ballroom some time that same year, owned by Democratic Committeeman & later City Clerk John C. Marcin. It turned to the Garden Walk restaurant in the late 1960s.

Broan commented about Chopin Theatre on Sep 2, 2014 at 4:23 pm

I think that’s probably a sign for Wieboldt’s in the distance.

Broan commented about Chopin Theatre on Aug 31, 2014 at 11:00 am

Broan commented about Moviemax Cinemas on Aug 11, 2014 at 1:57 pm

Changed the name to Moviemax Cinemas last month. For the description, note that Phoenix Big Cinemas was just an arm of Phoenix Adlabs, so it’s misleading.

Broan commented about Chicago Theatre exterior on Jul 10, 2014 at 8:31 pm


Broan commented about CHICAGO Theatre; Chicago, Illinois. on Jul 10, 2014 at 8:28 pm

Holiday released in 1938

Broan commented about CHICAGO Theatre; Chicago, Illinois (1936) on Jul 10, 2014 at 8:27 pm

Robin Hood released in 1938

Broan commented about Halfield Theatre on May 3, 2014 at 7:57 pm

Here’s an image.

Broan commented about Village Art Theatre on Apr 21, 2014 at 7:50 am

9/5/2013 9/6/2013 2013-1504 1548 N. Clark 100486552 Village Theater 42

Exterior: Remove and rebuilt 76 linear feet of 3' high parapet along Clark Street façade per Historic Preservation stamped plans dated 9/6/13.

Salvageable masonry to be retained and reinstalled. Any required new masonry to match historic size, color, texture and appearance. Masonry to be cataloged and evaluated per submitted plans. Historic Preservation staff to be notified to view and approve terra cotta samples prior to order and installation. No other work permitted with this approval.

Broan commented about Colony Theater on Apr 15, 2014 at 10:26 am

If Thalia Hall can finally come back, maybe the Colony can too.

Broan commented about Chicago Filmmakers on Mar 11, 2014 at 10:59 am

Tribune article

Note that Chicago Filmmakers is in the same building as the LeGrand/Temple Theatre, but most of the theatre space is taken up by the stores.

Broan commented about Roscoe Theatre on Mar 6, 2014 at 1:04 pm

Photos posted in photo section via Forgotten Chicago on Facebook

Broan commented about Michael Todd Theatre on Feb 23, 2014 at 8:23 am

1987 Photo

Broan commented about White Front Theatre on Jan 27, 2014 at 2:21 pm

There continues to be a lot of confusion over the location of the White Front. All the hard evidence I’ve seen points to the storefront that was most recently Kiss & Tell Lingerie as the location, while anecdotes point to the Foot Locker.

Known facts: -The White Front was at 909 Milwaukee under the pre-1909 numbering system, according to numerous sources -The address 909 Milwaukee translated to 1257 Milwaukee when re-numbered, according to the 1909 renumbering guide ( and the 1914 Sanborn Map covering this area. -This is a photo of the White Front, reprinted in a 1916 Moving Picture World

-A February 6, 1906 article in the Chicago Tribune describes a fire in a three story building at 909 Milwaukee. The White Front opened later that month at 909 Milwaukee. If the fire was in the building now occupied by Foot Locker, it would have been described as a “two story building” -The 1914 Sanborn Map illustrates the Kiss & Tell building as it currently stands, so that building dates at least to 1914 if not earlier. -The 1916 article describes a 5&10 store in the former White Front. 1916 Chicago Tribune advertisements show a O'Connor & Goldberg shoe store in the 1253, Foot Locker building.

I have used photoshop to paste the image of the White Front onto the facades of the existing buildings. The proportions of the photo fit very well into the Kiss & Tell, especially the surrounding architectural details. The photo does not align well with the Foot Locker’s proportions. This comparison is posted here in the photos section.

Finally, Byster’s was not in the Foot Locker, it was one door south. The awning still says Byster’s.

Broan commented about Fine Arts Theater on Jan 14, 2014 at 8:56 am

Chicago’s Fine Arts building contains two of the oldest surviving theatres in Chicago, with remarkably complex histories.

The Solon S. Beman-designed building began was built 1885-1887 as the Studebaker Building. A massive building with gigantic granite columns, it was built for the Studebaker Company, which at the time manufactured carriages. The first four floors originally served as showrooms, with manufacturing on the upper four and in the basement. At the time of construction, this part of Michigan Avenue was largely residential, but the character began to change soon after, with the construction of the adjacent Auditorium Building to the south in 1889. To the north was the Art Institute of Chicago, built in 1886-1887. Both neighboring buildings echoed the Studebaker’s architecture with extensive use of arcades and rusticated stone.

In 1890 and 1892 the Art Institute built and enlarged an annex addition to the Studebaker to house its galleries and libraries while it prepared to move across the street into the Memorial Art Palace, used by the World’s Congress Auxiliary for scholarly programs during the Columbian Exposition. In 1895, the Studebaker Company began work a new building on South Wabash Street and once it was complete in late 1897, the old building was re-dedicated to Fine Arts.

Under the management of Charles C. Curtiss, the new plans included two music halls on the first floor, Studebaker Hall, seating around 1500 and University Hall, seating around 700 for recitals. The top story was removed and three new stories added. The upper part of the building would be offices and studios for musicians, artists, publishers, architects, and other artistic purposes. A smaller assembly hall would be built on the 10th floor, connected to the Auditorium hotel’s dining room. The open-air Venetian Court was built in the fourth floor light well. Stores on the lower floors would be designated for musical instrument stores. The new building would become the hub of the arts community in Chicago, and over the years held studios for such luminaries as Frank Lloyd Wright, Lorado Taft, John T. McCutcheon, L. Frank Baum, and organizations such as the Daughters of the American Revolution, Chicago Women’s Club, University of Chicago Teacher’s College, Chicago Musical College, Poetry Magazine, the Little Room, the Little Review, the Little Theater, the Kalo Shop and the Illinois Women’s Suffrage movement.

Studebaker Hall opened September 29, 1898 and was primarily used for popular music, meetings and plays. It was noted as exceptionally beautiful and acoustically superior. Originally, it had an arched proscenium like the neighboring Auditorium and 34 box seats across three levels, divided by stately columns. Early on it was primarily used for light opera by the Castle Square company of Boston. It was leased to Connor & Dillingham of New York in June, 1907 and was refurbished. In August, 1913 it turned over to Klaw & Erlanger. The Studebaker began its brief high-class film career April 20, 1914 when Jones, Linick, and Shaefer assumed operations, with an even briefer stint under Triangle. In September, 1917 the Shubert organization took over the lease, working with K & E, and began a major reconstruction. The proscenium arch was enlarged, the side walls were rebuilt, and a new main floor, balcony, and gallery were constructed, though the ceiling remained the same. Hanks & Gazzolo took over in 1922, and in October 1927, Samuel Insull took over the lease so that his theatrically-oriented wife could manage it. (Gladys Insull was the inspiration for the Susan Alexander character in Citizen Kane.) After the stock crash devastated Insull, the Studebaker ran diminished until being leased to a variety of itinerants. Among them was the Central Church, which held services there 1944-1950. On February 11, 1950, it closed and was used as studios for NBC through 1955, reopening October 2, 1956. From then it operated under a series of organizations including the Nederlanders. It was only used sporadically in its later years, and the final show may have been A Prairie Home Companion in October, 1982.

University Hall opened December 29, 1899 and was renamed Music Hall around 1903, when a balcony was added. It was again remodeled somewhat in 1908, and renamed the Fine Arts Theater, now presenting plays. In 1912, it was totally rebuilt and the Fine Arts Theater name became more prominently used. On May 16, 1914 it started showing films under the Alfred Hamburger organization during gaps between live shows. Another round of renovations came in October 1916, when it was renamed the most familiar name, the Playhouse Theater and went back to showing plays except for brief stints of movies. In 1919 it was leased to Metro Pictures, but showed both film and performance through the twenties. In April 1933, coinciding with the Century of Progress, it was again renamed to the World Playhouse, featuring movies, especially foreign films. The World Playhouse became, essentially, Chicago’s first dedicated foreign and art film theater. It closed in 1972; in its final year it had booked adult films among other imports. It was renovated and reopened in September 1980 for chamber music.

In December, 1982 M&R Amusement Company announced plans to convert the two theaters into a cinema complex, becoming the first theaters to open in the Loop in 10 years. They opened on Christmas Day with Moonlighting in Theatre 1 (Studebaker) and Veronika Voss in Theatre 2 (World Playhouse). Initially, the World Playhouse continued showing live entertainment occasionally. In 1983, the Studebaker stage was walled off to create Theater 3, utilizing a dressing room as a projection booth. In 1984, the same approach was taken in Theater 2 to create Theater 4; Theater 3 was renovated so that both could share a newly-built booth in between. Theatre 1 held approximately 1200 seats; Theatre 2 approximately 550 seats; Theatre 3 240 seats; Theatre 4 158 seats. Showing mostly art and independent films, with occasional Hollywood fare, the theaters closed in November, 2000.

Since then, various proposals have been floated to reopen the theaters, but none have come to fruition. Theaters 3 and 4 have been removed, restoring the integrity of the stages. The Studebaker and World Playhouse have been open for occasional special events, but await a thorough renovation to be reused.

Broan commented about Fine Arts Theater on Jan 14, 2014 at 8:45 am

The newspapers were a little unclear. “The Fine Arts Theatre” and “The Fine Arts Music Hall” both appear in the Tribune from 1908-1912. I suspect the ‘music hall’ references were talking about Assembly/Curtiss Hall on the 10th floor but it’s not really clear. I’ll take it down and re-edit.

Broan commented about Franklin Theatre on Jan 12, 2014 at 8:43 pm

More likely they just fell apart by that time. I think they were pressed metal.

Broan commented about Colonial Theatre on Dec 18, 2013 at 7:16 pm

Review of a play about the Iroquois fire

Broan commented about Crawford Theater on Nov 15, 2013 at 9:16 am

NYC tore down even more big theaters than Chicago did. There’s just a limit for what’s supportable. Setting aside property taxes, who would pay to maintain these buildings with no foreseeable future use for 50-60 years? If all the loop theaters were still there, it’s likely none of them would be profitable. There’s only so much market and some pruning is painful but ultimately necessary.