Granada Theater

6427 N. Sheridan Road,
Chicago, IL 60626

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Showing 51 - 75 of 153 comments

jukingeo
jukingeo on October 29, 2007 at 2:09 am

Hello Debear:

That is why it is all important to rally together and save what palaces we can. In your neck of the woods that would be the Uptown. The Uptown is very close in styling as to the Granada.

The trouble is the much of the area around the Uptown needs to be improved. Parking for on is an issue. But in the case of the Uptown it is worth it. Because of it’s large size the Uptown could very easily be Chicago’s Radio City. It is, in fact physically larger than Radio City (but not exeeding it’s capacity).

I think the biggest problem facing old theatres today is either a lack of a defined use, parking issues, and depressed downtown areas. Many old towns are reforming and trying to rebuild their downtown areas so that is a help. With gas prices rising, people are going to
turn to local entertainment again. The big issue is parking and this is one of the things the Uptown faces.

The Granada, unfortunately, was in a depressed area and faced the other problems I mentioned above. Sadly that has sealed it’s fate.

The famous Chicago Paradise does have a sister, the Loews Paradise in
the Bronx. It’s future was very grim until several groups of people got together and saved it and restored it. Granted it isn’t like the
Chicago Paradise, but it does share some of it’s styling. It is, of course, a John Eberson Atmospheric…my favorite :).

Geo

goldylocks
goldylocks on October 28, 2007 at 8:30 pm

I was heartbroken when they torn down the Granada theater I grew up seeing many movies there and the Devon as well.Sonny and Cher made a rare appearance there in person after their movie showed . I loved the little popcorn shop next door to it, which had real butter and cheese popcorn .I hold alot of wonderful memories of it, what a treat getting to see a James Bond movie like “Goldfinger "in such a grand palace! debear

jukingeo
jukingeo on September 26, 2007 at 2:28 am

Hello all,

Wow! You learn something new everyday! I never heard about this place before. Shame on me! But I am happy to see that at least some parts of the Granada was saved to create this magnificent home.

What more is that my interests are nearly identical to Sanfilippo. I too love carousels, jukeboxes, antique radios, victrolas, organs, band organs, steam trains, old cars, old ships (I am a Titanic historian and have been recently researching both the Lucitania and the Normandie).

I think I would have a blast going through this home. I too have a small collection of my interests, but alas I have no where near the buying power of Sanfilippo. If I did, though, I think I would get my theatre first :).

Geo

IMRadioactive
IMRadioactive on September 25, 2007 at 8:19 pm

Yes, that’s the one…an incredible place to visit. I’ve had the chance to see the collection and climb around the organ. All the instruments have been carefully restored and include the histories of each piece.

The organ room is something else…it includes a balcony with old theater seating and old lightbulbs all around that pulse to the music. Several recordings are available.

Here is page that has some info on the house: View link

The home is open to various collector groups and words can’t describe all the stuff that’s inside.

PGlenat
PGlenat on September 25, 2007 at 5:50 pm

IMRadioactive: By any chance would you be referring to the Sanfilippo residence? If so, recordings exist of that Wurlitzer hybrid organ which is housed in a specially built room that was added to the home. There is also a proscenium arch in the room with a replica of the Paradise theatre stage curtain.

IMRadioactive
IMRadioactive on September 25, 2007 at 3:59 pm

Greetings All…

I also grew up in West Rogers Park and went to many shows at the Grenada and Nortown.

The exterior of the Grenada, or a good part of it still exists. It was incorporated into a home near Barrington. This home belong to a noted collector who has an incredible collection of old phonographs, victrolas, moviolas, music boxes, band organs and more. His living room is a full-size theater organ (many parts restored from former movie theater and radio station organs).

Unfortunately, the home isn’t open to the public, but my hopes are someday this home will become a musuem since the collection inside is one of the finest in the world.

I took some pictures of the home earlier this year and will post them if people are interested.

Cheers…

rvalleau
rvalleau on September 21, 2007 at 10:36 am

Hi Ellen,

Your pretty good with the dates. I definitely loved the movies they had at the Granada. Memorized a lot of dialog from the movies I worked for then. Feel free to contact me through my email. No need to bore everyone here with tales of the past.

EllenD
EllenD on September 21, 2007 at 6:19 am

Bob V.

Well, fancy meeting you here, of all places, after 40+ years! If memory serves, don’t you more or less hold the Granada’s record for “Most Viewings of 1963’s ‘Tom Jones’” (starring Albert Finney and Susannah York)?

Ellen D.

rvalleau
rvalleau on September 20, 2007 at 7:11 am

Hi Ellen, Yes I was capt of the users at the Granada in ‘65.

EllenD
EllenD on September 20, 2007 at 6:16 am

Bob V.

Could it be possible that you are the same Bob V. who was captain of the ushers at the Granada in 1965?

Ellen D.

ACEngel
ACEngel on September 19, 2007 at 3:59 pm

The late Granada theatre was truly a gem. I grew up in Rogers Park in the 1950’s and 60’s and “lived” there every Saturday during the summers for the Children’s Matinee, where the lower floor was packed. A great baby sitter for parents from 9:00am to 11:00am. Sometimes my friends and I would sneak up to the balcony and hide so we could see the regular features afterward. A friend’s older brother was an usher there and he took us on a tour of the basement and behind the screen, which the organ pipes were located. Does anyone remember waiting in line and getting pop corn from the little restaurant a couple doors north of the entrance? The popper was in the window and in the summer the restaurant door was open and the aroma of fresh pop corn was sooo inticing It was cheaper than in the theatre and we had to sneak it in, as the ushers would not let us in with it ‘cuz they wanted us to buy pop corn and candy from the theatre. The price was twenty-five or fifty cents in the early years to get a ticket.

Anyway, the real reason the Granada is gone is because Loyola University had originally planned to create land fill on the lake to add to the campus, in conjunction with a city project to extend the Lake Shore Drive to Howard Street, but when the city’s plan fell through, Loyola instead bought up property on Winthrop and Kenmore AND the Granada theatre building. The paperwork to register the Granada as a National Landmark was being processed when Loyola convinced the city to allow the sale. The theatre was in great shape at the end, just a little run down. The last movie event I saw was the Three Stooges festival in the late 1970’s and she looked great. The memories are quite vivid to this day and the old girl will be missed.

jukingeo
jukingeo on September 1, 2007 at 11:24 am

Hello Dougd

I have made those claims as well. The Uptown is physically larger and more elaborate than Radio City Music Hall. However, Radio City has made much better use of it’s space. Thus it’s capacity is larger. Also it is a better design acoustically as well. With Radio City, there isn’t a bad seat in the house. It is a very ‘smartly’ designed theatre. But in terms of beauty, I still have to give that to the Uptown. The Roxy was also more beautiful than Radio City as well, but it had some problems with the layout. There was one time that even Radio City’s life was threatened, but the people of NYC had enough with the loss of the Roxy. So thankfully Radio City was saved. Unfortunately it really is no longer a movie house. I believe they still do show premiers there from time to time, but it is really a live performance theatre now.

Geo

dougiede
dougiede on September 1, 2007 at 7:11 am

To WorldWideBob: About the Uptown Theater and Radio City Music Hall: You said that the Uptown had just a few seats less than Radio City. By the numbers: Uptown, 4,320 seats; Radio City, 5,940 seats; and The Roxy (“The Cathedral of the Motion Picture”) torn down ca. 1960, 5,920 seats. I have been in Radio City; that place is really HUGE !! It is a great shame that we will never see their like again! (Of course, Radio City is still flourishing, but I do not believe they show many films there any more.)

jukingeo
jukingeo on August 31, 2007 at 3:24 pm

Hello Molly Beth

Welcome aboard the “Cinema Treasures Express”! Be prepared for a wild ride here when it comes to old theatres. Like the real theatre, there is alot of happiness and heartache here and unfortunately you can’t have one without the other especially when discussing a topic such as this.

Like yourself, I had made my way here via the Styx Paradise Theatre album. I am more than twice over your age and Styx was in it’s grand heyday when the Paradise Theatre album was released. Needless to say I became obsessed with the album cover and the Paradise Theatre itself. As you probably can tell by my previous posts here, I did kind of become an authority figure here in regards to the album and I even had the grand opportunity to meet and discuss the album cover with the artist who created it.

Anyway, all the information is both here and also in the Paradise Theatre thread. There is more info there. However, it will take a pretty long time to get through the Paradise Theatre thread. It is one of the oldest and most visited threads here

I am happy to see that there is hope for our younger generations in that you do appreciate the granduer of these palaces. I too love old mansions having been to both the Vanderbilt and Westbury Garden mansions here on Long Island. I am an avid lover of Victorian architecture and I always dreamed of one day buying a Victorian home.

What you have discovered is character and that is missing in alot of ‘new’ things today. This is the same thing that makes one like old antique jukeboxes that play old 45 records, the same thing that makes one prefer a steam train over a modern electric one. Yes, I been to many museums, have restored many old radios and jukeboxes and I would love to restore an old theatre one day.

I have been looking to buy a theatre recently and with that comes not only the desire to preserve something old and cherished, but there is also the business side and unfortunately it has to rear it’s ugly head. The truth of the matter is that for a theatre to be restored and reopened…there has to be a market for it’s use.

Another largly overlooked problem is parking. Most of these grand palaces were built in a time where the horse and buggy reigned. Most people walked or took a trolley. Those days are gone and cars have taken over. Now a theater needs ample space to put all these cars. That is a big problem with most small community theatres.

Today, movies are not profitable. The movie companies just simply take too much for small movies houses to turn a profit, which is why you see these large featureless 30 something theatre buildings crop up. There is always strength in numbers and this is no different for the movie industry. More theatres means more people, more people means more food bought at the concession stand. THAT is the real place where theatres make thier money nowadays.

But for old theatres, there is still hope. Live shows, community events, concerts. Yes, these types of shows will bring in many more profits than movies.

Some old theatres have already been saved that follow a live performance only schedule. Which brings me to what I believe is one of the happiest times (in my opinion) in modern theatre history.

I do not know if you ever heard of the Lowes Paradise Theatre in the Bronx. It was recently restored a couple years ago. It is a magnificent building that does share a lineage with the Chicago Paradise. I refer to the two theatres as sisters because of the similar designs and also the fact that both theatres were built around the same time by John Eberson. Both theatre’s are of the Atmospheric design and this was a style that Eberson excelled at.

It would be worth your while to come to the Bronx and see the Loews Paradise. They do offer tours of the building.

I too believe that the destruction of old theatres should stop. But it isn’t always the case. Many times I wished I could just move one of these old theatres to a better place since it is many times the location that really makes the difference.

Long Island is finally lamenting it’s past doings that hasitly demolished or converted most of it’s old theatres. As of now, Patchogue was the only town wise enough to invest in their theatre and had it restored. Now it has become a well known and very popular theatre. People here do want more theatres because with the rising costs of fuel, people want to stay close to home and want something to do locally.

This is something I understand as well because now people don’t want to travel as much because of high property taxes and high gas prices. The money simply isn’t there to go into the city and see a VERY expensive show. So the more local entertainment is warranted, the more the desire to have a theatre close to home.

So hopefully there will be those that step up to the plate and we may see more old downtown theatres being restored and used again.

Anyway, I talked off topic enough here. Once again, welcome to CT!

Geo

midnightvalntine
midnightvalntine on August 31, 2007 at 7:29 am

I just discovered the sad tale of the granada theater while googling the Styx album Paradise Theater (it was one of the first hits).
It is sad that such wonderful buildings can be destroyed in the name of “progress and modernization."
In my hometown of Syracuse NY, we have (or had) several buildings designed by the famous architect Archimedes Russell (link here- View link ) but sadly they are going the way of the Granada and so many buildings before them. When I was little I remember my mother telling me about the grandeur of them in my great-grandparents' day, but looking at them now you would have no clue. The Snowdon Hotel was once the most sought after address in the city. Now, it houses only released sex-offenders (you don’t go down into that area at night, ever). Another building, once housing a little pharmacy was bought out, left, neglected, and torn down just two weeks ago (I cried for a treasure destroyed). I am only 18, but even I know that it is so wrong for such historical treasures to be destroyed to have a pawn shop or a tattoo parlor spring up in their wake. The next thing to go could be the beautiful mansions whose neighbor hoods have fallen on very hard times.

This sort of thing should be stopped, and I hope that I’m not the only one who feels that way.

Molly Beth

MKuecker
MKuecker on August 30, 2007 at 7:48 pm

Hello Bob V.
My website, although undergoing major revamping is a tribute to The Granada. I would like to interview you. Please email me directly.
Also, anyone else with a personal Granada story, I’d like to hear it. :)

rvalleau
rvalleau on August 30, 2007 at 3:48 am

Hello Everyone,

I worked at the Granada for several years in the mid 1960s as an usher. Needless to say, I fell in love with the place. Many of us took great pride in the theater and every weekend we would come in before the theatre opened and did things to keep the place looking great (painting, cleaning, etc). I did a lot of exploring of the theatre, getting behind the walls, going under the theatre to the vents below the seats (I was young). The place was in fantastic condition. While the place did have its share of rodents, it was a young guy’s palace. While employed there I met many celebrities that came in to promote their movies, Jerry Lewis and George Peppard being a couple that I recall. I also worked for a closed circuit TV broadcast for a Cassius Clay (A.K.A. Muhammad Ali) and Sonny Liston fight. I was seating customers who had reserved seats. Among them was Jack Dempsey. The fight was brief but the memories were sweet. After I left employment there I continued to visit the place for movies and concerts (Supertramp and Foreigner being some of my favorites). Since then I have never seen a movie palace that matched the grandeur of the Granada. Granada, I miss you!

Bob V.

GrandMogul
GrandMogul on March 28, 2007 at 12:06 pm

Famed “Schmeling-Louis” fight film shown at Granada—–

NEWS ITEM:

Chicago Daily News, Friday, June 26, 1936, p. 36, c. 1—–

FIGHT FILMS OPEN AT B-K THEATERS

The Joe Louis-Max Schmeling fight pictures, complete from beginning to end have been booked in as extra screen attractions at eight Balaban & Katz theaters starting today. In the loop the pictures will be shown at the Roosevelt and Apollo theaters; west side Marbro; south side, Tivoli and Southtown; north side, Granada, Varsity and Uptown. The pictures showing the knockdown in slow motion, also start at the Regal theater on the south side on Sunday

jukingeo
jukingeo on March 27, 2007 at 4:46 am

Hello Bob,

Poured concrete catwalks??? Wow I sure would love to have a grand tour of the Uptown now! I have a funny feeling that place has MANY suprises.

In terms of size, the general accepted way of determining that is occupancy. I guess it has been that way for years. I too, did contest the fact that the Uptown was larger based on the seating, but then I saw a blueprint of the Uptown’s floor plan. And I have one for Radio City as well. Clearly, the Uptown is much larger physically.

I also have full documentation on the Chicago Paradise as well (of course) and the closest (existing and operating) comparison to that would be the Loews Paradise in the Bronx. But even though the pictures I have of the Chicago Paradise are in B&W, it clearly was a building to die for. It has and always will be my faviorite theatre. But to only imagine what it would have looked like in person. But the Bronx Paradise does give you a taste of that the Chicago one was like.

As you can tell, I have a soft spot for atmospheric theatres :).

Geo

WorldwideBob
WorldwideBob on March 27, 2007 at 4:01 am

Geo,

I will post that on the Uptown site later. The Uptown’s building is bigger than Radio City, it’s just that Radio City had a few more seats (cheating it’s title of largest, sort of like the things with skyscrapers as to why some tops count in height and some don’t). I do agree it’s a beautiful theatre. The Uptown, demo would make even the Paradise demo pale in comparison, not to ramble (I could) but to give you an idea, where in some theatres the standard is metal catwalks, the uptown has many that are poured concrete sidewalks. Old man Balaban wanted to impress his friends, and I’m sure his personal tours of the place must have been quite a good time.

I have been to the Bronx Leows Paradise (I have relatives in Woodhaven) and I agree they did a nice job. It’s worth the tour (which I took and recomend) as you get places you don’t during an event unless you’re working the show. And yes it’s like the Congress, or United Center in Chicago, during a scheduled event there are enough people and security around that it is safe.

jukingeo
jukingeo on March 27, 2007 at 3:15 am

Hello Bob,

Thank you for your insite on the situation with the uptown, I hope you reposted your document under the listing for the Uptown as well as I am sure there are many that would like to know what is going on.

For a long time, I didn’t believe what I was hearing that the Uptown could upscale Radio City, until I saw the pictures for myself. While Radio City is a beautiful theatre, The Uptown clearly trumps it in every way shape or form and it IS physically larger too.

Yes, I had a feeling why the Uptown lasted so long was in regards to it’s construction. I think many a demo crew has realized what had happend to the company that had torn down the famous Paradise Theatre.

But thank goodness that the Uptown is well constructed and I am hoping that it can hang on until something positive will become of the current situation and that the theatre will eventually be restored.

You said the building was constructed with the aim to be the most beautiful and ornate theatre in America. To a certain extent, I think that line still holds true today.

After seeing the inside of the Uptown and seeing how much it does compare to the Granada and Marbro theatre does have me keeping my fingers crossed that this building could be saved.

I have seen what was done with the Bronx Loews Paradise here in NY. It is breath taking. Right now I can only wish the same for the Uptown.

Geo

WorldwideBob
WorldwideBob on March 26, 2007 at 11:37 am

Hi,

Since the Uptown is being discussed here I thought I’d add a few comments. First, there is a photographer who I believe still lives in the neighborhood named Lori Robare who took some great pictures of the Uptown. Second the Metra north line stops at Lawrence and Ravenswood just a few blocks west of the Uptown, the ‘L’ as mentioned is a half block east. The parking structure just west of the ‘L’ was torn down because some violent crimes happened there, rather than make it more secure the turned it into a street lot that cops driving by could see all of. A new deck with cameras and security features could be built on the site. What I haven’t seen posted is the fact that at one point the Uptown was almost torn down for a high-rise (due to it’s large footprint) but when National Wrecking came in and saw how it was constructed the bid was so high that the developer just purchased another property (a bowling alley 4 blocks south) and built his high rise there. If you go by the Boardwalk at Broadway and Montrose you can see what Broadway and Lawrence would have been like if the Uptown was constructed like an ordinary movie palace. When the Uptown was built as the big sister to the Riviera one block south. Balaban (of Balaban & Katz) lived nearby on Castlewood Terrace. Katz lived in Englewood and had the Englewood Theatre ( way cool, but now torn down and replaced by a strip mall) built for him and his neighbors. Balaban had the uptown built and spared no expense to make it the best movie palace in America. Radio City is a few seats larger, but not as nice. I’ve been in over 100 movie palaces, thru the catwalks and guts, and have never seen anything like it. The amount of concrete and steel in it would safely construct a building thrice its size. It even has two secret stairwells in it. When it was built it also had a radio studio in it (WEBH) that fed into National broadcasts.

Part of the problems it has is it’s position on the border of the 46th and 48th wards, and there is a lot of politics involved. I personally know of someone who was prepared to renovate it about 18 years ago, but could not get the approval of the politicians involved because he didn’t donate to the right things and didn’t want to add to his payroll people who knew nothing about theatres except that if you’re involved in the renovation you can pull prime tickets for approved friends of the powers that be, along with collecting a check at the salary your sponsor though appropriate, but hey the last election all three of one of those alderman’s opponents got tossed off the ballot before election day.

So in summary, thanks to the solid construction of the Uptown it is unlikely it will be torn down. Renovation however will depend on whether the renovators can wait for a good political climate, or whether it finally becomes profitable enough that the ‘extra costs don’t sink the project.

More next time, Worldwide Bob.

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on March 24, 2007 at 7:42 am

Also, Doug D.

1947 was when the CTA took over from the Chicago Surface Lines and the Chicago Rapid Transit.

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on March 24, 2007 at 7:39 am

The Granada and the Uptown were both located along what is now the CTA Red Line. The Granada was about ¼ mile south of the Loyola station and the Uptown is just west of the Lawrence station. Up until 1993, the Red Line was known as the Howard-Jackson-Englewood.

The Red Line travels through the State Street Subway and the Blue Line travels through the Dearborn Street Subway. Both were begun as WPA projects in the 1930s. The State Street Subway opened in 1943 according to http://www.chicago-l.org/operations/lines/red.html however World War II shortages delayed the opening of the Dearborn Subway until about 1951.

Even today, many cinemas and still-extant former cinemas are located along “L”. Excluding the Downtown Theatres, here’s a line-by-line breakdown:

Blue Line: Gateway, Logan, Congress.
Red Line: Village North, (Brew ‘n’ View at the) Vic, Victory Gardens (ex Biograph), Drury Lane Water Tower (ex Water Tower Cinemas), 600 North Michigan Cinemas, Chatham.
Brown Line: Music Box.
Pink Line: Showplace 14 at Hawthorn Works
Purple Line: Century 12 Theatres/Cine Arts 6
Green Line: Lake

I’ve probably missed a few, and I omitted closed theatres like the Esquire and the 3 Penny.

jukingeo
jukingeo on March 22, 2007 at 11:27 pm

Hello PAUL,

Thanx for the inside on the Chicago Transportation system. I can see it clearer now. I can definately see how the Uptown could benefit from a express travel line with also railway access. In addition something like this could be built into a multi-level parking structure on the North side. Given the size of the Uptown and also improving the economy in the area…this is something the city shouln’t ignore.

I know there are all kinds of obstacles and politics involved. I guess in a way it is the theatre historian in me that is speaking. But overall, the city would stand to benefit from a project like that. The Uptown alone can bring tremendous revenues in that area.

We have lost too many of these beautiful structures already. I can’t see that in this day and age a theatre of the Uptown’s stature would be lost.

It is a shame that NY lost its Roxy theatre and it is still being lamented over. Hopefully Chicago doesn’t make the same mistake…already too many beautiful theatres have been lost in that town.

Geo